"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Trundle

Sunday is our third run in the Nottingham Six Pack Challenge, this time it’s the ‘Trentside Trundle 7K’ from Stoke Bardolph. L runs it while I walk with both dogs and she then runs back up the course to meet us. Of course we get lost again but the good news is my knee is at last showing some signs of slight improvement.

A good test of our new TV is the film Possessor which is streamed from Broadway Cinema via Modern Films. It is directed by David Cronenberg’s son Brandon and it certainly shows influences of his father’s work.

Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is employed by a company that offers remote assassinations. Basically they kidnap and drug someone who has access to the person they want to get rid of, imped a microchip in their skull and then allow one of their staff to take control of their mind and body via super-bluetooth (or something). Just like a computer game.

Tasya is the company’s top assassin but she's been working too hard and needs a break from her job. Too many long hours, killed too many people, you know how it is and she’s begun losing touch with own life. She’s so used to being other people, she has to rehearse being herself before she goes home at nights to her husband and son. She isn’t going to get a break though because her boss (Jennifer Jason Leigh) needs her for the biggest job the Company has ever had.

Her next job to take out John Parse (Sean Bean), the CEO of some mega company, along with his daughter Ava (Tuppence Middleton) using her boyfriend Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott) as the weapon of choice, making it look like some massive mental breakdown on Colin’s part. This is at the request of Ava’s step-brother who would gain by inheriting the business.

The assassination is only a partial success as Colin seems resistant to being fully taken over. Ava is killed but Parse escapes. When Tasya attempts to cut her losses and flee by forcing Colin to shoot himself she finds that she can’t make him do it.

Meanwhile a shocked Colin cannot understand why he’s killed his girlfriend or why he is suddenly getting memories of another person life, that of Tasya’s. Confused, he kills a friend of his before tracking down Tasya’s family and confronting her husband at gunpoint, demanding answers he isn't going to get.

Personally, I was disappointed that the film drifted off its more straightforward assassination plot line and into everyone’s weakening grip on reality. Something which vastly accelerated the body count and where it’s not always entirely clear what is going on and who was in control of who.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Groundhog Day

After the practice sessions with L on Saturday, Daughter makes it up to Nottingham Police HQ on Monday in her new car despite the weather throwing an extra challenge in her way and becoming a little icy. It was difficult enough staying upright walking the boys this morning but then I did have the Lad, which is always a problem.

In the afternoon she has to get down to their training centre in West Bridgford which she also adeptly manages and successfully parks. This might have been four foot from the kerb of course but who’s counting.

On Tuesday, she and some colleagues fail the temperature gun test but they are still allowed at work. Although they wouldn’t have got in the Organ Grinder, the ex-military chap there is very forceful with his gun test. Yet a few days later she has to self isolate for fourteen days after coming into contact with a colleague who has since tested positive.

Steve McClaren is back at Derby for the fifth time. First as a player, then assistant manager, then manager twice and now he’s technical director as Wayne Rooney rakes sole charge of managing the team itself after Derby lose again, staying rooted to the bottom of the league.

Size isn’t everything but we have now gone large and boast a 55 inch TV. Even the Lad approves although the squirrels look much larger and menacing on it.

It is announced that at the end of the current lockdown almost the entire Midlands including the whole of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire will go into Tier 3 but it’s a different Tier 3 to last time. Last month’s Tier 3 is now called Tier 2. We will have shops, hairdressers, and gyms open but no pubs, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, coffee shops or cafes. If your hobby is shopping you’re ok but if it’s anything else you’re basically still locked down.

After another death defying trip to Asda I head over to deliver the shopping to my folks, so we miss our walk with L but the boys seem to forget they’ve missed out on a walk when the ginger biscuits come out.

On Saturday L requests that we watch Groundhog Day which neither of us can remember ever seeing. It is entirely appropriate in these Lockdown times when one day is pretty much like the previous one. The weekends differ from the week slightly in that Sunday is a Groundhog Day of Saturday for us with two consecutive lie-ins until noon. Which is all the Lad’s fault for Groundhog Daying us every morning all week by getting us up pre-dawn.

(Saturday 28th November)

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Cutting Edge

Monday sees visit number three from the Bosch Man, after which the vacuum cleaner still isn’t working. He says he’ll order some more parts and come back. In the evening MD is at the Vets for his annual booster. Due to their Covid rules he has to go in on his own while I have to wait in the street in the cold. I hope he can work the card machine or else they won’t get paid. After that I have another Committee Meeting, which is again held online.

On Tuesday, deciding against Zoom for now, L has her latest virtual meeting at work using WhatsApp with one phone wedged up in between a stapler, recording the meeting on another phone wedged up on a mug. Which, in my experience, is a fairly standard set up. They’re actually more cutting edge than they think.

Meanwhile some workmen have turned up next door to hack down the Amazon Rain Forest that has grown there and which is threatening to scale the fence to invade our own garden. They have quite a job on, so much so that they are at it for two days.

L appears to have left a pear out on the worktop for the Lad. At least he thinks she did, I’m not so sure, but it’s just out of his reach so it’s been quite entertaining watching him try to get it.

On Friday I go into work purely because the car has to go in for it’s MOT and the VW garage is close to work. At least close enough for me to hobble there with my doggy knee. The dogs aren’t happy at me deserting them and I spend most of my day looking at their sad faces on Dog TV.

While L now seems to be getting the hang of Zoom I’m not keen to head over to give my Dad a lesson. Derby County, in their infinite wisdom, have organised a Christmas Party for the Over-85s on Zoom. What could possibly go wrong? I decide I’d rather not find out and thankfully my Dad seems to have forgotten about it.

On Sunday we do the second run in the Nottingham Six Pack Challenge. This one is called the ‘Leaky Hollow 5K’ and is in Cotgrave Country Park formerly famous for the Paws 10k that I ran once with MD. L and Daughter run it with the Lad while I walk it with MD. We all get lost.

(Sunday 22nd November)

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Bonnie And Clyde

After doing our ‘essential’ food shopping at Sainsbury, which was fairly quiet, I discover rather bizarrely that Homebase is still open and they let me buy a totally non-essential paintbrush. This makes me feel like a total criminal but L reassures me that she has been allowed to buy non-essential chocolate biscuits. So basically we’re Bonnie and Clyde, that is... unless everyone’s at it?

The Government announces that Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are among 67 areas that are going to be targeted with mass testing. Each will receive 10,000 test kits which is a bit of a misuse of the word ‘mass’ as that’s just one test for every 30 people in Nottingham. Much less than that in Nottinghamshire. Perhaps it's just for the hypochondriacs and those who don’t mind being told to self-isolate.

This is even though our numbers are now coming down fast but then I suppose you wouldn’t want to mass test somewhere where infections were going up because then you’d find lots of cases which would make the figures look really bad. It's much safer to test somewhere where they’re going down.

I put my illegal paintbrush to use and paint our new bench. L is looking forward to it being finished so that we can sit outside with a glass of wine, in between rain showers. 

Somewhere between doing my usual Sunday 10k with the Lad and Wednesday my knee seems to have completely given up the ghost. It is so bad I’m practically having to crawl up the stairs which is definitely an escalation from the ongoing issue with my knee I had before.

On Friday L comes home from work in the outside world, armed with a mini bottle of Prosecco and asks me to give her a Zoom lesson. I tell her I think we’ll need a bigger bottle.

On Saturday, after their appalling start to the season, Derby sack Phillip Cocu. We’re now all worried that Wayne Rooney will get the job.

Also on Saturday I end up doing a four and half hour shift at work, working from home, that I wasn't planning on doing at a customer's request. At least the overtime will be good.

On Sunday we start the Nottingham Six Pack Challenge, which is six ‘do any time’ runs in local parks that in total add up to a full marathon. Due to my knee injury we start with the shortest which is a 5k jaunt around Bramcote Hills that they call ‘What's Your Poison?’. As I can barely run, L is strapped to the Lad, something I don't think she enjoys. 

‘Barely run’ turns out to be a bit over optimistic and it takes me 45 minutes to hobble round. The Six Pack website warns us of a ‘technical glitch’ with the route on the Rungo App which you use to navigate. The glitch appears to be it not knowing where the finish is.

(Sunday 15th November)

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Make Up

Derby County lose again and slump to bottom of the league. With the pubs closed I can't even go out to drown my sorrows. So we stay in and I rent a moody British film called Make Up which probably doesn't help. It was made in Cornwall and rented through BFI Player\Broadway Cinema.

Young Ruth (Molly Windsor) get more than she bargained for when arrives at a windswept caravan park in St Ives as the season draws to a close. Her boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn) works there and the caravan park's manager Shirley (Lisa Palfrey) takes Ruth on as well to assist with the winter maintenance. 

Although initially pleased to be with her boyfriend, things start to go wrong for Ruth when she finds strands of red hair in their bed and lipstick on the caravan’s mirror. With Tom regularly disappearing for long periods, supposedly working, she suspects he is having an affair but she doesn’t know anyone with long red hair. Let alone someone who is seriously moulting. Perhaps he’s secretly hiding a Red Setter or an Afghan hound? When she goes for a shower and hears someone having sex in the next stall, she suspects it's him and his mystery woman. 

With Ruth also seeing things around the park, like things inside caravans that are supposed to be empty, and also confessing she is scared of the sea and cannot swim, there is a sense that something awful is about to happen.

What does happen is she finds a friend in Jade (Stefanie Martini), who is a fellow park resident, and who offers Ruth a makeover. Ruth doesn’t suspect Jade of having designs on Tom but quickly realises that she might have designs on her but initially she’s far from keen.

As the film goes on she cures herself of her fear of the sea and having convinced herself that her boyfriend is cheating on her, cures herself of any qualms she may have had about indulging in a spot of cheating on him with another woman.

It’s an odd film, a relationship drama but one where we never really get to know the main character so never really understand her insecurities or for that matter are convinced enough by her relationship with her boyfriend to care if she runs off with someone else, male or female.

Its plus point is its wonderful atmospheric setting of an out of season caravan park with its motley collection of residents.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Local Legend

Having only just joined Strava I am somewhat surprised to be told that I have already claimed the title of ‘Local Legend’ on the esteemed ‘Meadow Lane to A52 Bridge via Walton Road and Ordish Avenue’ route. Cool title eh? I have bagged this coveted crown because I have ran this 0.7km segment five times in the past 90 days which is more than anyone else but, of course, why would you? However it’s a title, so I’ll take it.

Tuesday brings a triple dose of excitement. First there’s another visit from the Bosch repair man who fixes the vacuum cleaner. I leave it on charge for a few hours, then turn it on and it immediately stops working again. So I call Bosch and the whole cycle starts again.

Then we drive Daughter over to Colwick to collect her car from the garage after she snapped a track rod whilst out rallying.

Finally it’s our last dog training session before Lockdown 2.0 is upon us.

I could have mentioned a quadruple dose of excitement as I stay up late to watch some of the US Election but it immediately becomes clear that this will be a bit of a slow burn as Trump does a lot better than anyone expected.

It does becomes clear over the next few days that he has lost and lost substantially, although he doesn’t see it like that and claims it’s all rigged against him. Funny that as I'd have though if there was any rigging to be done, he’d be behind it.

Lockdown 2.0 starts on Thursday but L's work continues to open as normal. She says this is good for her sanity and mine. Unlike the first lockdown there are plenty of people and cars about with the trams\buses still very busy.

The boys take it all very seriously and stay in bed for most of the day. While with the pubs shut again I go back on the kegs of Lockdown Ale and order ‘Mi’ld man’s a dustman’ a 5.4% mild from Lenton Lane.

On Friday I’m in the office myself as I need to use some of the equipment there. There are six of us in the building, three downstairs and three upstairs. I escape at 4:30 so that I can walk the boys up to meet L from work to ruin her peaceful walk home, something we’ve been doing since the park started shutting early.

Friday is also PC Daughter’s first day in the Police.

(Friday 6th November)

Sunday, 1 November 2020

A Substantial Meal

I wake up fleeing rough on Friday. I’m blaming something I ate, like the last of the week old clotted cream on one of L’s excellent scones.

On Saturday evening we ‘celebrate’ Halloween by watching Nightmare on Elm Street from 1984. It has to be said that the film hasn’t aged well and the acting is truly terrible but it’s still an enjoyable watch. It features Johnny Depp making his film debut, Johnny hasn’t aged well either. Just ask Amber Heard.

On Sunday, the Lad and I head out to run Fix Events' Going Barking Mad Great Global Dog Run 10k Challenge. MD joins us, as usual, for the last kilometre.

Just as we're preparing to support our local pubs in their first weekend of Tier 3, the Government announces that it will also be our last weekend in Tier 3 as a new National lockdown will be introduced from Thursday. Of course we had been told repeatedly that another lockdown wouldn't be necessary, so obviously it was only a matter of time before yet another screeching u-turn happened. The good news is that our Leffe order has arrived, so we're stocked up.

We still head out to support the pubs meaning we need to have a ‘substantial meal’ with our drinks. The Organ Grinder are offering their usual pork pies and sausage rolls but now with salad while the Borlase have their range of pizzas. L is dreading either option.

However when we get there, the Borlase tell us they are closing early due to lack of trade and direct us to the newly reopened Overdraught instead. Now renamed as The Good Fellow George, it is being run by the former landlord of the Borlase and a chap who was formerly a TV star alongside Daughter.

Unfortunately their beer range is dire, with Harvest Pale, Bass and Doom Bar, so I have to opt for keg and Bear Island IPA to get something remotely interested. I sincerely hope this is simply down to the circumstances of their one weekend only opening and not an indication of their long term strategy. If it is, they won’t last long.

The place itself has improved though, it is much more comfortable and they served us an Antipasti of meats, cheese and bread as our substantial meal which was excellent.

Almost at the same time Scribblers have sold the Room With A Brew but new owners have quickly take over, only to also be shut down promptly. 

(Sunday 1st November)

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Pumpkins

On Monday I head down to the University labs at QMC because I’ve been invited to take a Covid Antibody test after offering my services in the search for a vaccine. I manage not to faint as they take a sample of my blood. 

Daughter becomes a car owner as she picks up her first car while L and I are quite possibly the first people to do Middleton Primary School’s Pumpkin Trail.

Tuesday sees L fulfilling an ambition to swim in the rain at David Lloyd’s outdoor pool. Each to their own. I can’t say that I share her enthusiasm but I have already swum in the rain a few times, the Sundowner and Outlaw Half Ironman’s spring to mind, they were deeply unpleasant even in a wetsuit.

The rain means that the tennis season has now most definitely officially ended and the Covid ‘rules’ say we can’t move it indoors. I may have to go for a run instead. My opponent assures me that is something he won’t be doing. Each to their own. The rain also means that MD spends all morning sulking because he can’t have the door open.

By Wednesday Daughter has well and truly been welcomed into to car ownership with her first flat tyre. We feel that her driveway has claimed yet another victim and to her credit she now gets her landlord to remove the metalwork at the end of her drive that may have maimed many people's cars. Unfortunately, as is often the way, no one can get her wheel off and a garage will have to be called.

Nottingham, from being top of the Covid infections league, has now plummeted to 22nd and is clearly heading further downwards, yet it is belatedly confirmed that we will be moving into Tier 3 from Friday and the rest of Nottinghamshire will be joining us but not Derby. On the day it records more cases than Nottingham for the first time Derby is only required to go into Tier 2.

(Thursday 29th October)

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Making Things Disappear

Rumours are that Derby will soon be joining us in Tier 2 but, ha ha, they’ll never catch us. We’ll be in Tier 3 by then. 

The Lad has a good week making things disappear. I open a tin of beans, then after I briefly turn my back, I notice that the lid has disappeared off the worktop and is now up the garden. I’m surprised he didn’t cut his tongue given how many times I've spliced my finger on those ring pulls. Then when I lose the cardboard bit from a used toilet roll, there’s no trace at all. I think someone might have eaten it.

On Saturday we have a photo session for the dog club’s annual calendar up at Arleston. It chucks it down with rain during our time slot but the photos are still very impressive.

Our Bosch vacuum cleaner, which we have lent to my Mum and Da, stops working completely. I wonder if they’ll now, finally, take it back.

On Sunday I go for another 1Ok run with the Lad and then settle down to watch the end of the Giro d’Italia. Which finishes with yet another Brit taking a Grand Tour as Tao Geoghegan Hart is the unexpected winner. Just like the Tour de France it was settled on the final time trial but it was a much better race overall.

 (Sunday 25th October)

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Scone Addiction

On Monday I have to go into work because the internet goes down at home. Well actually our phone line is totally dead. There’s an Openreach van parked up the road so I guess that it’s something to do with them.

L puts an old duvet cover at the side of our bed where MD usually lies, to make him more comfortable. He spends the first part of the week avoiding lying in that spot completely, possibly wondering why something has been dumped there. It is only after the Lad has tried it for size that MD grudgingly, at long last, decides to lay on it but he makes a big show of not looking terribly happy about it.

L swims at David Lloyds where today it’s just like John Carroll because it’s just her in the pool. So home from home. However unlike John Carroll, they didn't shut the pool early and chuck her out.

L bakes some scones, to save us from going cold turkey after developing an addiction on holiday, which of course we smoother in jam and clotted cream.

Our internet is back working by Monday evening, so I’m working from home again from Tuesday. Which is also our final tennis game of the season. Although my opponent is a little bit annoyed about having to don full thermals on what is a damp, cold and windy day. To be honest, I expected him to say he was injured. Having unknowingly booked the wettest court, we move to a drier one but then it gets surprisingly busy and we have to change court three times because new people kept turning up, who had somehow been tipped off on how to book the driest courts.

The Brighton Marathon is cancelled. Which is a relief and the first time they have been on the ball enough to cancel early. The new date is now 12th September 2021 which sadly is the same day as the Great North Run. So I will defer instead to April 2022. There’s nothing like booking well in advance. I might even be fit by then.

(Thursday 22nd October)

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Fangirl

On Thursday I embark on another terrifying trip to Asda but apparently supermarkets are not virus hot spots while sparsely populated pubs are. Meanwhile Erewash and Chesterfield join us in Tier 2 but not (yet) Derby. 

On Friday I finally watch my first football match of the new season as Derby play Watford and lose. Everyone else heads upstairs to join an online workout with Daughter although it sounds like the dogs are fighting rather than pumping weights.

On Saturday L’s Mum ends up in hospital for most of the day and L goes over to sit with her Dad, thereby topping up her Jason Bourne fangirl status and where she also gets to use the microwave. Which is a novelty for us as we got rid of ours about 15 years ago.

The boys and I amuse ourselves cutting the lawn, catching up with the Giro d'Italia and with the bits of Troubled Blood that our audiobook decided to skip over.

I also take receipt of a parcel for L although she assured me that if I was out it didn't matter because it was only a couple of swimsuits and they'll fit through the door, assuming Hermes find the right door.

It's a rather large parcel that arrives, quite a big box and it rattles. Clearly not just a couple of swimsuits. L claims it couldn’t possibly for her... but it has her name on it. When she gets home and opens it, it’s two swimsuits and a huge Sports Direct mug in a box. Clearly a freebie, not something she ordered and now something that has to be (somehow) environmentally disposed of.

I run 10k with the Lad on Sunday. Our first run for a while and hopefully the rest will have done my dodgy knee good. Meanwhile the Thoresby 10 miler goes ahead and I sort of regret not entering but they did want a commitment a month ago which I wasn’t prepared to give.

We don’t go out on Saturday but we head down to the Borlase for a pint on Sunday visiting the Banksy mural on the way. There’s a bit of a queue on our way out but it’s quiet enough to get a photo on the way home.


(Sunday 18th October)

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

No Household Mixing

We arrive home to find that Nottingham now has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections in the country. Although this appears to be entirely down to the approach taken by Nottingham University, which appears to thoroughly sensible to me. The University is using its own labs and its own money to test all 10,000 of its students every week and to get them to isolate if they’re positive. 

Meanwhile our Great Leader announces that the country is to be divided into three tiers of restrictions: medium, high, and very high. Which is like when buying wine in a pub e.g. nobody wants to sell you a small. The high tier is basically the no households mixing rule as in Northumbria the other week. On Wednesday, Nottingham joins them.

The day before that happens I meet up with my friend in Derby for a last night of freedom. We have a drink in the Alexandra, then more drinks and food in the Brunswick. My friend has soup as he's been at the dentist but then follows this with a bag of crisps.

L starts at David Lloyds having cancelled her council membership and her online Pilates. She says her first swim there was beautiful and she swam outdoors. Which was something she declined to do in Northumbria and Cumbria.

L has a delivery of face shields at work, having inadvertently ordered 10 packs of 10 rather than just 10. She’ll be accused of hoarding, so I’ll have a pack for dog class.

The new NHS Covid-19 App is a bit rubbish really and keeps sending out random exposure notifications that no one understands. So now they’ve started sending out a second notification telling you to ignore the first one...

Wednesday is the first day of the new High (Tier 2) restrictions in Nottingham. L was supposed to meet Daughter for a meal but now she can’t. So they cancel their restaurant booking and meet outdoors at Forest Rec instead with a takeaway from the Lobster Pot. Quite eclectic really. 

Having read through the new rules, which are naturally confusing, I believe I can dog train. I think. L is more worried about us bringing home fleas  than Covid, so I impress on the Lad that there is to be no household mixing. 

 (Wednesday 14th October)

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Cumbria

Our new cottage does have Wi-Fi but generally isn’t quite as nice as our first one. We also find out when we arrive that it isn’t very dog friendly because the dogs are not allowed upstairs. Obviously had we known this in advance we’d have booked elsewhere. It also says in the instructions that dogs are not to be left unattended, so presumably that means we’re not allowed to sleep upstairs either?

There are four pubs in St Bees but only two of them look worth trying. After one meal in the Queens Hotel, we settle on the Manor as being the better of the two and eat there three times.

On Monday we go for a ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, which is something I’ve been contemplating doing for about twenty years. This takes you by steam power from Ravenglass to the heart of the Eskdale and Boot, where we have stayed a few times in the past. The Lad loves the steam train, MD would rather be anywhere than on a moving steam train.

We also visit Wasdale and Ennerdale for walks while we’re in the area but we struggled to find any decent beaches along the Cumbrian coast. To be fair St Bees’ own beach is probably the best there is and it is of course where the Coast to Coast walk starts from. We also visit Maryport, Millom and Whitehaven.

On Saturday we head home, via breakfast in Barrow. The not terribly with it waitress overcharges me and then gives me a part refund in cash. I find out later that my initial payment had been rejected by my Revolut card as I’d hit my contactless limit. So we were actually in credit for the meal. Whoops.

We complete Troubled Blood but a fault with the audiobook means it has skipped several chunks and we both have to relisten to several chapters when get home.

(Saturday 10th October)

Friday, 2 October 2020

Northumbria

We head north to Belford in Northumbria for the first week of our two week holiday. There has been a local lockdown of sorts placed on Northumbria although the only difference to us seems to be pubs shutting at 10pm but we’re always drunk long before 10pm anyway. The no household mixing rule won’t be an issue as we don’t know anyone up there to mix with. As usual we’re just planning long lonely walks and runs in the rain.   

For, I think, the first time ever on a Summer trip we are not camping. I’m disappointed, I can tell the dogs are disappointed but oddly L seems ecstatic. I’m sure she doesn’t mean it.

We have a cottage which when we arrive doesn’t seem to have any electricity. So the first task is to call the landlord to get that sorted which he does. He tells us he owns one of the local pubs but when we visit we get harangued by one of the locals for being on holiday. Although he a bit stunned when he learns that the landlord is aiding and abetting us in this felony by putting us up in his cottage. Oddly as he stands berating us he is closer to us than anyone gets all week.

The cottage also doesn’t have Wi-Fi which causes us both to run up high data bills on our phones but other than that the cottage is great and very dog friendly.

We do a fair few coastal walks via the likes of Bamburgh, Seahouses and Berwick on Tweed with lots of dips in the sea for the boys. L’s walking boots don’t seem too impressed though and expire early on. We don't get out for any runs. The cottage isn't in a great location for that as it is by a busy road.

A particularly nice walk is from Craster to Low Newton-By-The-Sea via Dunstanburgh Castle. At Low Newton-By-The-Sea the Ship Inn brews its own beer and we finish up in the Jolly Fisherman at Craster. By now we’re realising that with all the restrictions on capacity booking somewhere to eat is going to need a military plan or the internet. We book online for two meals at the Percy Arms at Chatton and one meal at the Apple Inn at Lucker. The rest of the time we eat in.

We finally achieve a trip to Lindisfarne, twenty odd years after our first attempt when the tide defeated us but not Son who tried to swim there until someone stopped him. This time we go early, allow ourselves to get marooned there and then leave later when the tide goes out again taking a bottle of Lindisfarne Mead with us as a souvenir.

We have a long drive out to Kielder Water and back but then can’t walk Kielder when we arrive because the parking metres only take cash and we don’t have any.

We also manage to get slightly lost on an amble in the Cheviots Hills from Wooler, where they are now setting up a distillery called Ad Gefrin (Yeavering) which was apparently the medieval capital of the Kingdom of Northumbria and means ‘near the hill of the goats’. We correct our route by descending across country down a hill (no sign of any goats) where L manages to fall and pull a muscle in her foot. She spends the rest of the holiday with a limp.

The weather is largely warm and dry through the week until we depart for Cumbria on the Saturday. Our trip charting the path of Hadrian’s Wall is done in a downpour. 

(Friday 2nd October)

Friday, 25 September 2020

Join The Club

Tennis is off because my opponent has gone and injured himself again. Something about setting fire to his arm but I daren’t ask for details. It was probably too sunny to play anyway. So I spend my lunchtime chucking balls.

Wednesday brings dog training while Thursday is an extra trip to Asda for my folks before handing over to my brother while we’re away for two weeks. Meanwhile L goes for a trial session at David Lloyds and she will start there after our holiday. Our TV watching continues with 'Des' about Dennis Nilson and starting David Tennant.

Friday is traumatic after MD falls down the stairs. Well he was pushed. He was stood at the top and the Lad went underneath him causing MD to lose his balance. He then barrel rolled all the way down to the bottom. It was well scary but no harm has been done it seems as he got up right away. The Lad stood at the top and watched the whole thing but didn’t look particularly concerned.

The Government pivots on its Covid strategy again. From telling us at the start of August that there was now no excuse not to go back to the office, then at the end of August to go back to the office or risk losing our jobs to now telling us to work from home again.Confused? Join the club.

You can still go to the pub, at the moment, but they have to have table service and mask wearing by staff is now compulsory. Two things that most of us thought was compulsory from day but apparently wasn’t. At least the NHS App has now finally been released.

L purchases Troubled Blood, the new Robert Galbraith, for our holiday. All 31 hours of it!

(Friday 25th September)

Monday, 21 September 2020

Brighton

Our second weekend away is without the dogs and Daughter is dog sitting. We head to Brighton for the non-Marathon. I felt guilty to keep moving the hotel booking every time the Marathon is cancelled and felt we should go to support the hotel.

I head to Nottingham train station on the tram, which is fairly quiet, and meet L there. As we usually do when we head south through London, we have a stop off in the Big Smoke. Although it’s not so smoky at the moment and Friday night is really quiet. Our hotel, The Crestfield, only seems to have a few rooms taken and we have booked a table at the Parcel Yard but probably didn’t need to because that is quiet too. So it's a evening with several very peaceful pints of both Fullers ESB and HSB.

We have breakfast near King's Cross which I have to order on an App. Then we get the Thames Link to Brighton although the electronic signs on the train keep insisting that we’re in Kings Lynn, they are incorrect.

Mask wearing is widespread in Brighton, however the centre of town is uncomfortably busy when we arrive but not too bad when we get down to the sea front where our hotel, which is called Nineteen, is. We have a person free check in and a nice posh room. The dogs would have approved.

On Saturday we walk up to Hove, taking in parts of the Marathon route. A lot of people seem to be running the Marathon virtually but on the same course on the same weekend. It’s oddly inspiring. For me anyway, L seems unmoved.

We have a couple of pints in a pub called The Southern Belle in Hove, but not so many that we start seeing upside down houses. 

Then we head back to what would have been my pre-race meal as we honour our booking in The Coal Shed which is a expensive steak joint but also very good.

After a trendy breakfast at Red Roasters on Sunday we walk in the opposite direction up to Saltdean. There is method to L’s madness here as we are heading to Saltdean Lido. L was desperate to swim at the Lido but we have missed the last session of the year by a week unless you’re a dog that is because it’s their annual dogs only weekend. Sadly we are without the dogs but they wouldn’t have been allowed in while we were there because it’s been booked out by the local Labrador club.

 
 
A very nice mid-afternoon pint outside the Hand Brew Pub (no inside allowed) before an evening of a few pints in the Mucky Duck and a post non-race curry at the Pavel Indian Restaurant.

Then on Monday there’s time for breakfast at Wolfox Avenue before an amble on the pier and then the train home. There are a few renegade youngsters on the train who break the social distancing that everyone else is adhering too but that is nothing to how uncomfortably busy the Nottingham Tram is. I won’t be using that again for a while.

 (Monday 21st September)

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Et Voilà

On Tuesday morning, back home, we wake up without the Lad. Somehow he’s managed to get himself locked in computer room in the middle of the night.

I cycle to work and with L now back in work full time, the boys are on their own at home. She even risks a gym session.  I have to miss tennis but it would probably have been too sunny anyway.

L takes my watch, a Christmas present from her, in to Nottingham to get the battery replaced. Swatch do them for free but she is informed that it’s not the battery that's failed but the mechanism that has stopped working. It is under guarantee but L tells the man that she has shredded all her receipts from that Christmas. Ah but not the one for my watch, which she gave to me and I have kept. Et voilà. I have a new watch.

(Thursday 17th September)

Monday, 14 September 2020

Vertical Take Off And Landing

Saturday sees us head off on our first trip away since our visit to Berlin in February, which was just as world was starting to panic about Covid-19. Everybody else seems have gone away, so we thought we might as well too and this is the first of five consecutive weekends away.

We head up to the Lake District and stay at the Lodge In The Vale which is on Thirlmere between Grasmere and Keswick, practically at the foot of Helvelyn. We are there for two nights, Saturday and Sunday. It’s dog friendly, so the boys are with us, although MD is non too impressed with the room's wooden floor which means he can’t get enough traction to jump on to the bed and has to be lifted on. The Lad has no problem but then he can still do a vertical take off and landing.

The bed is smaller than ours so with both dogs on, not that they’re allowed on the soft furnishings, there is barely enough room to breathe. At times L and I are forced to decamp to the single bed in the room for some privacy.

The Lakes isn’t too busy but it’s still difficult to get a drink in the evenings, let alone a meal, due to everywhere operating at reduced capacity. After a short walk on the banks of Derwent Water on Saturday, we manage to book into the Keswick Park Hotel through Opentable and it proves a good choice as we have an excellent meal.

On Sunday, our walk around Thirlmere is largely aborted by our lack of walking boots and no great idea of where we’re supposed to be going. We end up having an afternoon drink in the Kings Head Hotel, which is just down the road from the hotel, and book in there for a meal later.

We check out on Monday and after coffee in the café at our hotel, we have breakfast on the jetty at Ambleside. This comes on disposal plates and with disposal cutlery which is a bit naff. I’m not sure if it’s a Covid thing but there’s no such requirement to do this as far as I’m aware and it’s really bad for the environment.

A ‘one for the road’ at the Hawkshead Brewery would have been nice but it’s too full, so we head home. 

(Monday 14th September)

Friday, 11 September 2020

Pipes And Wires

Monday is the first time I have to queue to gain access to Sainsbury’s for quite a while as I return to the Wyvern after last week’s failed experiment with Castle Marina.

Tennis happens on Tuesday, which surprised me as I was quite looking forward to hearing what this week’s injury was. The game finishes in a one set all draw.

On Wednesday, the Government holds its first Covid-19 Press Conference since July, although as Nicola will tell you they’ve never stopped in Scotland. This is to refine the ‘rule of six’ rule as we ramp up for ride the long expected second wave. What nobody seems to realise, because everyone’s been ignoring it including the Government, is that what they are doing is actually relaxing the rule. Previously meeting up was supposed to be restricted to just two households of up to six people in total, now it’s six of any household.

Pubs are also now be legally required to take contact details rather than it being 'advisory', as it should have been before. If we were capable of getting things right first time around rather than months later we’d be rather good at all this by now.

It looks bleak for sports events which is why I haven't renewed my season ticket. My Dad gets access to all the TV Games with his free season ticket so there's little point me renewing.

On Thursday I take my Mum to Derby Royal hospital where she is to be strapped to a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. This is to see if/when her blood pressure drops. She was in and out in 20 minutes, which was good, but she’s not happy because she is now covered in pipes and wires. My Dad is so going to enjoy fiddling with them and it probably won’t be working by the time they get it back tomorrow.

I again take her to hospital for them to do this, so I don’t go into work, and therefore don’t bike.

(Friday 11th September)

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Declining Popularity

The country continues with its Covid-19 half-arsed-ness. Please wear a face covering but don’t worry we won’t tell you off if you don’t. Please quarantine if you’ve been away on holiday but don’t worry we won’t check if you don’t. Please give your details to Test and Trace when you visit the pub but don’t worry if you don’t, we probably won’t call you anyway and that’s assuming we can read your scrawl.

The council are perhaps being a little more serious about it all because on Saturday, when L goes to Pilates, she is made to socially distance in the rain, which may or may not kill the virus.

The new football season starts with Derby playing Barrow in the first road of the League Cup. The match goes to penalties, which Derby win. Sadly the game has no programme but that would be understandable as they didn’t have a crowd either but the club have actually decided to stop producing match day programmes due to declining popularity.

It’s sad because I have a near complete collection of them since I started going to games in 1977. I also have some from before then that my Dad had collected. Quite why they needed to make a decision on this when we aren’t going to be going to any games any time soon I don’t know.

Most people won’t have even noticed this decision and won’t until they start attending games again when, hopefully, the backlash will mean they will get reinstated. They have replaced the programme with a monthly magazine which will be even less popular as they should know having launched several such magazines over the decades, none of which lasted very long.

Saturday evening is spent in the Blue Monkey and the Borlase while on Sunday I run with the Lad.

(Sunday 6th September)

Friday, 4 September 2020

There’s Always Something

Monday is a bank holiday, so shopping is deferred to Tuesday or it would be if it wasn’t for tennis but... of course tennis is off because my opponent has injured his hand. There’s always something but then, as regards injuries, I'm the same. Must be our age.

So I shop after all but decide to go to Nottingham Sainsbury’s on Castle Marina. This was a big mistake. It was far busier than the one at Derby’s Wyvern, so it wasn’t particularly Covid safe, everything was in different places and therefore I couldn’t find anything and then to top it all they still have trolleys where you have to put a £1 coin in. I thought those went out of existence in about 1990 but obviously not. 

Of course I didn’t have a £1 coin and the store wouldn’t give me one because that wouldn’t have been Covid safe, so someone had to unlock the trolley for me. I think I’ll stick to Wyvern in future.

The dog club finally restarts although we now have a maximum group size of six and follow social distancing which means we will continue to lose money but at least we’re operating again.

The Watford Half in 2021 is cancelled and that was until February, don’t tell Brighton.

L’s Mum is tearing her hair out about being stuck at home, so on Wednesday L goes over to watch Jason Bourne films with her Dad while her Mum goes wild in Intu.

I go into work on Friday and go on the bike which is my first cycle ride in three weeks. I celebrate with a bacon roll while L can celebrate her getting to work with a now refiled chocolate machine for which she is the only customer in the building. 

(Friday 4th September)

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Storm Francis

Storm Francis scuppers Tennis while L trudgers to work in the heavy rain and even the dogs won’t go outside but they still insist on having the back door wide open. In revenge I force them out on a wild and windy walk when it calms down a bit.

More things are opening up post-lockdown and John Carroll release their swimming guidelines which require you to shower before you swim but they’re not providing the shower. I think they mean you’re supposed to shower at home before you arrive. If you go after work, as L is, does the shower you had in the morning count?

With everybody else seeming to be having a holiday I start looking at cottages for us to have a break once the schools go back, if they do go back, and things are a bit quieter.

Brighton confirm the cancellation of September’s Marathon and I roll my entry over to April, even though I strongly suspect that won't go ahead either.

On Wednesday I do a 'Eat Out To Help Out' with my old school chum. We have drinks in the Alexandra then a meal in the Exeter.

On Friday I go in to work again but as the weather is still so foul I opt to go in the car.

Saturday sees the start of the Tour de France that has been postponed from July. It starts in Nice and it’s anybody’s guess whether it will make it all the way to Paris in three weeks’ time given the current Covid situation in France. L’s boss is still in France and has now decided to stay even longer because the race goes through his village on Monday.

We go to a pub in the centre of Nottingham on Saturday night for the first time since they reopened. We visit the Six Barrel Drafthouse at Victoria where they aren’t doing table service and they make you queue at the bar. It's old fashioned and not terribly sensible, so I'm not sure we’ll revisit. We have a couple then pop in at the Borlase on the way back home.

We start another ‘boxset’ and watch the first of the 26 episodes that make up The Killing. We plump for the US version which is probably a mistake, as we should probably have opted for the original Danish series Forbrydelsen, but we’ll stick with it.

Probably more to our liking is Lethal White, which is just four parts over this weekend and next.

 (Sunday 30th August)

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Alfresco Dining

Friday has become my day to cycle into the office but Storm Emma, at least I think that’s what this one is called, and 45mph winds means cycling to work isn’t really advisable so I take the car instead. Rather worryingly about 80% of our staff seem to be back in the office, which makes social distancing a bit tricky. Luckily in the broom cupboard, my new office, it’s just me.

On Saturday after her Pilates, L meets some friends at Elvaston Park and I meet them there later with the dogs. Unfortunately just as I arrive everyone else is running for cover when the rain that has been threatening all morning arrives in style.

In the evening we have booked a table in Derby Market Place’s new outdoor bar/beer garden. Given the unpredictable weather it's good that I had the forethought to book us own personal ‘shed’. They have these covered tables in huts around the perimeter which provides us with a romantic sanctuary from the rain. Some friends of mine also have their own hut.

 

There is a bar from the Derby Brewery and we order food from the Exeter which they bring across. They also have an interesting approach to measuring social distancing.

 

Afterwards we pop into the Silk Mill for a few extra beers.

On Sunday with have lunch with my Mum and Dad at the Clock Warehouse having abandoned the annoyingly busy, unsafe and dubious pricing policies of the Dog & Duck. The Clock Warehouse is much better and with table service too.

(Sunday 23rd August)

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Flea Infestation

At Sainsburys on Monday their Smartshop self scanning system isn’t working so I have to try to remember how to do the shopping old style.

Tuesday is effectively a day off with the internet going down at work meaning I can’t log in to do any work. This would have been an opportunity for a more relaxed tennis session but my opponent cancels after injuring his back tidying his garage or it could just be an excuse because the weather is looking like it could turn wet. As predicted last week.

In the evening we Eat Out To Help Out with Daughter at the Sarangbang Korean Food Café which is really good and we have a cheeky pint afterwards in the very well organised Lincolnshire Poacher.

On Wednesday, Daughter is fitted for a stab vest and other police clothing but they have delayed her start date until November. At least we think that’s what’s going to happen. They are checking for availability in the November cohort. L says it sounds more like she trying to book a table at a restaurant than start a new career.

It’s quiet in L's office particularly with her boss away in France and the rule now is that you have to quarantine for 14 days when you return from France. So he’s decided he’s staying out there a bit longer.

It’s busy in my home office with myself and two scratching dogs. We seem to be having our own pandemic at home as we currently appear to be experiencing a flea infestation.

Thursday is shopping at Asda for my folks and it’s not getting any more pleasant. It seems to me that the more at risk groups you belong to the greater the likelihood that you won’t be wearing a mask. Perhaps they are all exempt but then you’d hope that someone else would be doing their shopping for them.

Personally, I’m not sure what the problem with masks is and I think those black masks look damn sexy on the right people, I sort of regret getting a blue one now, or it may just be that you notice everyone’s eyes more.

It's also livened up the shopping experience because now you’ve only got the eyes to attempt to work out what people are thinking e.g. whether they’re going to make a sudden lurch for the ketchup in the condiments' aisle. If you’re going to pull a social distance busting manoeuvre like that then you might need to start wearing dark glasses.

(Thursday 20th August)