Coronavirus diary - creeping into October
Last time I blogged I said we were on the Welsh Government's Amber list up here which meant that the numbers of coronavirus cases were rising and a return to more restrictions was possible. Well on 1st October at 6pm local restrictions were imposed here in Flintshire and also in the neighbouring counties in North Wales of Denbighshire, Conwy and Wrexham. This means that we are not supposed to cross the county boundaries unless for a "reasonable excuse" such as travelling for work or for a medical appointment. Living as we do very close to the border with Denbighshire that has meant a change in our normal shopping habits so we are now going eastward to Mold rather than west to Denbigh or south to Ruthin. A greater impact has been made by the suspension of the "extended household" rules which now means we cannot meet anyone inside from outside our own household of two. So our weekly meet up with friends has disappeared for now which I am missing. I am also feeling very aware of being cut off from family, with only our younger daughter and her family within reach now. We can still meet up with them outdoors as they live in our county but everyone else feels very far away!
One piece of good news is that yoga and Pilates classes have restarted (in a Covid compliant way) and that is very welcome. It is amazing how quickly you get used to sanitising your hands as you arrive, booking your place in advance to allow for reduced numbers and keeping a distance from your friends as you exercise. With all that it is still very good to see people, to focus for the length of time of a class on your own body and to be, however fleetingly, somewhere other than home! I love my home so heaven knows what it must be like if you don't!
Numbers in Flintshire are high and numbers over the border in Liverpool, Greater Manchester and the North West are higher still. As I write now this increase is beginning to feed through into higher hospital admissions but not yet into the sort of mortality figures we saw in the first wave of the pandemic in March and April. What will happen over the coming months? No one knows. I am very aware of falling temperatures and the shortening days and how much the glorious weather of our covid spring helped us all to cope. It will take a different sort of strength this time I think, in a weary population.
So for what it is worth I offer what has worked for me this last week:
Exercise and being outside. Up on Moel y Parc the clouds were scudding and the bracken is turning gold. Walking or running, the rhythm of my feet feels good. Crows caw. Buzzards mew. Sheep watch incuriously as we pass. My lungs fill and my spirits rise.
Colour. Colour in the garden still vivid, the salvias and the sedum still full of life, buzzing with bees and pollinators. Colour inside with hats coming off the hook for some of the granddaughters.
Using my brain. Three hours of Welsh class on Zoom is hard work but the immersion seems to have helped my brain to cope with trying to learn two new languages. Welsh does not have one single word for "yes" and "no". It works by using verb forms, mostly, so that you answer "it is", "I do", "they weren't". Sorry, Welsh speaking friends, I know this is a simplification! In the first week of returning to Welsh classes I kept falling into Spanish, especially jumping in with "Si" in place of the correct form of yes. Last week for some reason it fell into place again and I found myself happy to speak Welsh on Tuesday and Spanish on Thursday. It is not possible to fret about an uncertain future while trying to get your head around a Welsh grammar rule or explain what Offa's Dyke is to a Spanish person.
Food. I have always enjoyed the shift between seasons in all sorts of ways and moving to cooking winter food is a pleasure. So far we have had spicy chillis, savoury lamb stews, rich beef casseroles. The drawback of this one is that is doesn't help much with weight control. I will just have to run more.
And most importantly, company. Lighting the woodburner, having a glass of wine with Ian and watching something on the television together is soothing and warm, like having your fur stroked the right way. I need Ian's company for this to work. Watching by myself is not the same! And I do know how lucky we are to have each other and am grateful every day. This week we have had the pleasure of Michael Palin revisiting the start of his travel documentaries. The combination of a lively intelligence, a self deprecating line in jokes and an open mind and heart makes him the best of travel companions.
So we are still lucky here, with each other in our beautiful place. Hang on in there everybody.
Let's raise a glass to a night by the fire.
Are you all OK out there? What is your top tip for raising your spirits on a grey day?