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

Thursday 29 October 2020


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


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


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


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)