A Travellerspoint blog

UK Summer in Lockdown

In and Around Hove

sunny 23 °C

JUNE/JULY/AUGUST 2020

As June progressed and the number of UK cases began to fall, the Coronavirus restrictions began to be eased. The first noticeable change happened mid-month with the opening of non essential shops. This was followed in early July by the re-opening of restaurants, pubs, hotels, guest houses, camp sites, hairdressers, etc, but all with strict social distancing and hygiene rules in force. Social distancing now had been reduced to one meter +. The question was: “what does the government mean by one meter + ?” This was never answered and the public were left to make up their own minds.

The other three nations (Scotland, Wales & Northern Island) took a more cautious approach allowing an extra few weeks to pass before they followed suit. Their governments also provided a much clearer set of rules regarding the loosening of restrictions. In fact, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, was handling the Covid-19 outbreak far better than her counterpart in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In fact, it seemed that what ever Nicola did Boris would follow. A good example of this was when Boris and his team said the wearing of face coverings in shops was voluntary. Then, when Scotland made it mandatory, Boris changed his mind and England did the same.

By mid July we finally got the notification we were expecting: our flight to Canada had been cancelled. This, of course, meant that our three month trip to Canada and USA was off. What followed was the exercise of cancelling all our North American accommodation and transportation bookings and seeking refunds for the money we had paid. This kept us busy for some while.

With no trip to North America to look forward to, we had to decide what to do instead. We debated whether to visit Europe. As with the UK Covid-19 seemed to be under control and flights were now available to many destinations. However, there were still isolated outbreaks and local lockdowns occurring, so we thought it would be better to remain in England for a few more months. Having made that decision we started planning a UK road trip to run from the end of August to the end of October.

In the meantime we kept ourselves busy by going for local walks as frequently as possible. This reminded us just how much natural beauty we have on our doorstep.
But it wasn’t all leisure, we still had our cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring duties to take care of, albeit a small price to pay for Rob’s generosity during this Covid-19 period.

Kneep Castle

Kneep Castle

Knepp Castle Grounds

Knepp Castle Grounds

Knepp Castle Estate

Knepp Castle Estate

Red Deer at Knepp Castle Estate

Red Deer at Knepp Castle Estate

Knepp Castle Estate

Knepp Castle Estate

Willow tree in Sheffield Park

Willow tree in Sheffield Park

Family of ducks at Sheffield Park

Family of ducks at Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park

Sussex Downs

Sussex Downs

Sussex Downs

Sussex Downs

Old telephone Box now a Telepoem box

Old telephone Box now a Telepoem box

Lockdown Poem in an old telephone box

Lockdown Poem in an old telephone box

River Arun

River Arun

Bridge over the river Arun near Greatham

Bridge over the river Arun near Greatham

Footpath going through corn field

Footpath going through corn field

Thatch cottage in Sussex

Thatch cottage in Sussex

One memorable walk was on a day out to Runnymede. The main purpose for going there was to meet friends for a picnic in a delightful place right on the bank of the River Thames. Runnymede is just on the outskirts of London and is a site steeped in history and most famous for the signing of the Magna Carta, see PO & IF below. Our walk was circular and took us from one historic point to another, with a suitable length and elevation to build up a good appetite for the picnic.

Runnymede river Thames

Runnymede river Thames

Picnic by the river Thames

Picnic by the river Thames

River Thames where we had our picnic

River Thames where we had our picnic

Runnymede Air Forces War Memorial dedicated to some 20,456 men and women from air forces of the British Empire who were lost in air and other operations during World War II.

Runnymede Air Forces War Memorial dedicated to some 20,456 men and women from air forces of the British Empire who were lost in air and other operations during World War II.

Monument to the Magna Carta

Monument to the Magna Carta

Reflections in the Magna Carta Pool

Reflections in the Magna Carta Pool

By August we were all in the swing of the “new normal”. With the wearing of face coverings mandatory for all indoor establishments, although that was something we were already doing voluntarily.
Anne was able to have her hair cut and we both visited the dentist for a check up. Both very straight forward activities under normal circumstances but somewhat different in the world of covid-19. At the dentist we were required to wear masks right up until the inspection began, our temperature was taken when we arrived and the seats in the waiting room were all two meters apart.
Pubs were now open, so it was great to be able to have a pub lunch after one of our more lengthy walks. It was a beautiful day so we could dine in the garden, thus avoiding the more restricted arrangement that were in force inside. All the garden tables were numbered and two meters apart. You socially distanced whilst queuing to give your food and drinks order, you then collected your drinks at the bar and the food was subsequently delivered to your table by a waiter wearing a face mask. A little different to normal but a great pleasure to be able to partake again in one of my favourite pastimes.

First pint at a pub since lockdown

First pint at a pub since lockdown

Outdoor dining at country pub

Outdoor dining at country pub

Our first pub lunch since lockdown

Our first pub lunch since lockdown

We were now ready to return to our travelling life style. Plans were in place to leave Hove for the first time in five months and on the 23rd August start a UK road trip. Our route will take us up the western side of England and into Scotland. Stops of 5 to 7 days will be made at places of interest until we reach the Scottish Highland, at this point we will start the North Coast 500. The NC500, as it is known, is said to be one of the most scenic drives in the world and traces a route that hugs the coast right at the very top of Scotland. This time we will make shorter breaks, enough to see the places of interest, before continuing on our way. Once the NC500 is complete we will continue down the eastern side of Scotland and England, but at this point our plans are more fluid and we will make decisions as we go along.
We are both very excited to be travelling again and will cautiously plan further travels as time goes by. All the time we will be keeping our fingers crossed that the situation with Covid-19 continues to improve and that our future travel options expand.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Statistics

By the time August had arrived, Covid-19 seemed to be under control in Europe, although there were still a few isolated outbreaks which required more stringent local controls to be put in place.
However, this was not the case in other parts of the world. In particular, the USA, Brazil, India, Russia and other central and south American countries were still suffering.
As of the 17 August the statistics were as follows:

World: 22,043,560 cases & 777,073 deaths

USA: 5,612,027 cases & 173,716 deaths
Brazil: 3,363,235 cases & 108,654 deaths
India: 2,701,604 cases & 51,925 deaths
Russia: 927,745 cases & 15,740 deaths
South Africa: 589,886 cases & 11,982 deaths
Peru: 541.493 cases & 26,481 deaths
Mexico: 522,162 cases & 56,757 deaths
Colombia: 476,660 cases & 15,372 deaths
Chile: 387,502 cases & 10,513 deaths
Spain: 382,142 cases & 28,646 deaths

Magna Carta

In the 800 years since it was first sealed, this milestone of individual rights and freedoms has provided inspiration for many important constitutional documents. The 1791 United States Bill of Rights, the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many more owe a huge debt to one summer's day at Runnymede many years ago.

In 1215, England was in political turmoil. King John had become vastly unpopular, thanks to bitter disagreements with the church and a series of high taxes to fund ongoing war with France. An alliance of disgruntled barons and important members of the clergy had been mounting pressure on the king for years. At the start of 1215 the barons seized control of London - giving him no choice but to negotiate.

Events came to a head in June, when King John finally met with the barons to hear their demands. By 15 June he had agreed to seal the proposed 'Great Charter of Liberty (Magna Carta)’ during a ceremony at Runnymede near Windsor England, thus enshrining their rights in law.
 
The Magna Carta was special because it held the king accountable to the rule of law, just like his subjects. In total it was made up of 63 clauses, covering law, liberty and the church.The most famous and important of these clauses enshrined to the rights of "free men" to justice and a fair trial. Although at the time "free men" only referred to a small number of noblemen, this passage has taken on symbolic significance over the years. Today it is one of three original clauses that still survive in British law.
 
At the time Magna Carta had very little legal impact. At King John's request it was repealed almost immediately by the Pope, who emphatically declared the document "null and void of all validity forever".
It was only later that the 'Great Charter' began to have real consequences. King John's successor King Henry III released three revised versions of Magna Carta during his reign, and over the years it began to take on symbolic status.
 
The Magna Carta, original document

The Magna Carta, original document

Magna Carta Translation

Magna Carta Translation

Posted by MAd4travel 06:47 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (4)

Under Self-Isolation in Karlsruhe, Germany

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In happier times

Last year I was diagnosed with cancer. Hence I have to consider myself „high-risk group“ and keep isolated as much as I can. I’m glad not to be in hospital under the current circumstances. They let me go home just before Christmas, with a light chemotherapy through pills and control visits in hospital just once per month. My parents came over for Christmas, and I am glad that we were able to spend the holidays together. We live 500 kms apart, currently travel is out of the question for either side. I have no idea when we’ll be able to see each other again.

In mid-March, when the restrictions started, I understood that I would have to impose self-isolation on myself for indefinite time. Since cancer has struck me, my life had come to a halt in many respects anyway. All the shopping and deliveries were already organized, so the change was not that harsh. However, this means no more visitors in the house apart from the nurse and the cleaner, no more being taken to a supermarket by a friend and doing my shopping myself, no more choir rehearsals and club meetings. But I have a group of faithful friends who do my shopping and run my errands. Thanks my dears, you know who you are!

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My door, with a sign explaining that and why I won't open and that all deliveries, packages and so on are to be put into the red box. You'd think the sign is big enough... I assure you that it is not, some postmen just don't get it.

And hooray for all the options we have through modern media, from keeping in touch with distant friends and relations to online shopping.
Otherwise, it did not make much of a difference. I cannot work any more, sitting at the computer becomes a pain after a short while and my attention span is, thanks to all those pills I am taking, that of a three-year-old. Writing this blog entry is already a great achievement for me!

I so miss cycling most of all. A bicycle would give me freedom of movement over large parts of the city in fresh air and safe distance from everyone else, but my cycling times are over for good. I spare you a description of the medical reasons. A couple of months ago I sold my beloved bike, a bike belongs on the road not in a dusty cellar. It’s my cleaner who bought it, and every now and then I still get to see it.

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Sitting down and chatting on the meadow
Photo courtesy of Ella, with permission

However, instead of lamenting, one ought to be creative. With the friends who bring my shopping, I have a little face-to-face chat with me on the balcony and the other person at the window of the staircase, with three metres of fresh air between us. One friend whom I see regularly has a little campervan with all camping equipment on board; she unloads two chairs, a little table and everything on a nearby meadow and we sit and chat for hours. Thanks to this beautiful, sunny but not too hot summer!
One utensil is always on the ground between our seats, though not visible in the photo: a measuring tape, set to a length of 2 metres. This helps a lot to respond to silly comments from passers-by!

Then there are phone conferences, video meetings and even the occasional good old-fashioned letter. A neighbouring church community has taken to holding their services outdoors. The square in front of their church is perfect for this. It is surrounded by trees, and there is a lot of room, distances are easy to keep. Perfect for someone like me!

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Tomato plant on my balcony

The balcony is my favourite place. I got myself a nice suntan this year, something I have never before been after. I all started with the wish not to look so ‘sick’, and I soon observed that the warmth of the sun does me good. Then there are a couple of potted plants to be taken care of. I confess that I am a bit of an over-protective tomato mum. One yellowing leaf and I am dead worried …

The wombats are faithfully keeping me company. They are a bit grumpy because life is so boring and there are no trips to be taken on. Sometimes, if I don’t want to go all alone, I take one of them on my walks, with my handbag doubling as pouch.

Due to all this trouble I do not get out very much, my physical forces allow walks in a radius of one km around my house, so I cannot describe the situation in the city from first-hand experience.

Germany has never been in a total lockdown like other countries. We have always been able to go for walks to our liking, do grocery shopping, ride our bikes, drive our cars wherever we wanted. With the exception of the federal states along the coast, they had banned all visitors from outside their state’s boundary. This ban has in the meantime been lifted. Many attractions all over the country, like sights, museums, zoos and so on, have reopened, although with some limitations. Even the great toilet paper crisis has been overcome.

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The wombats inspect a delivery of groceries

There were and still are tight restrictions on everything that involved gatherings on people. Masks are to be worn, for example, in shops and on public transport, unfortunately not everyone is willing to do so and I am not so sure whether controls and fines really happen. The majority of people do contribute, though. Occasional local outbreaks can almost always be traced back to events where the rules were not observed.
So far infection numbers are comparatively low in this country, the measures work. Generally speaking, Germany is getting off mildly and our government is doing a good job.

There are idiots out and about, demonstrating against “their fundamental rights being affected by the anti-corona measures”. Holy crap. The most important fundamental right is the right to life and physical integrity. (Grundgesetz article 2, my dears.) And this applies not only to yourselves but also to the people around you, to the aged and infirm.

Many businesses are struggling with big economic problems these days. I understand their worries. However, isn’t saving lives more important?
Again, it’s the creative ones who get along better. Many restaurants and shops have started delivery services. One ice-cream parlour in the area has made big business and gained itself almost nationwide fame by installing an online ordering system for ice-cream tarts in the shape of – toilet paper rolls.

There is a lot of corona humour around. In my humble opinion, it is possible to laugh about witty corona jokes while still taking the threat and the illness very seriously. Let’s remember that humour is also good for strengthening the immune system.

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Somewhere on the web I came across a crocheting pattern that looked so weird and whacky, I simply had to try it. I herewith announce my latest hobby: crocheting corona viruses. I give these funny fellows away to the people who help me and I assure you, they are contagious indeed… One has actually moved to my doctor’s studio and found his permanent home on their reception desk. On Halloween people put up carved pumpkin faces in order to drive the bad spirits away. They are to think that a colleague has already occupied this place, and turn away. My virus talismans might work the same?

The pink one with the soulful eyes is my resident virus, all the others have moved out. As there are still some people in my surroundings without, I am still making more.

I apologize, this blog entry has a lot of me, me, me and very little about the situation in Germany. There is a saying that sick people become self-centred and egoistic – looks like I make no exception from the rule!

Note to self: be creative and make the best of it…

Posted by Kathrin_E 01:49 Archived in Germany Tagged germany corona Comments (12)

Addendum to the Maryland Situation

Physical Therapy is the Highlight of My Day

Maryland is doing pretty well with flattening the curve. I have heard that we have a positivity rate of 9.5% which is the lowest since the beginning of April. In our zip code we have had only 39 cases. We have gone to Phase II of reopening - we can eat outdoors at restaurants.

Our governor jumped on the problem immediately - my daughter said he had an advantage in that he just got done with chemotherapy for cancer and he understood what an infection would do to him. It seems strange to think of cancer as an advantage but I guess you could look at it that way.

I am still doing physical therapy for my hip - or rather I have started doing it again. I stopped in March and we picked it up again in June. Half of the visits are done on the computer. The visits in person are the only time I see someone who isn't a doctor, other than my husband

I went to the dermatologist Monday and she took two biopsies of my face. I don't think either were cancer, but she hasn't gotten back to me yet.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 13:33 Archived in USA Comments (5)

Empty London

As an addendum to my earlier post about life in the UK, I'd like to share a few photos taken by my husband Chris (with his permission) of the empty streets in central London. I haven't been into the centre of the city since the lockdown began - I can't take the Tube as I normally would (it's restricted to those who absolutely have to travel, like key workers, and in any case I wouldn't want to. It's too far to walk and unlike Chris I don't cycle. But he has been doing a weekly bike ride, on a Sunday morning when it is quiet, right into the West End and beyond. Here are a few of his photos of London as we never normally see it.

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Trafalgar Square

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Leicester Square

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Piccadilly Circus

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Oxford Street, and Tower Bridge

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Chinatown (Gerrard Street)

Posted by ToonSarah 07:10 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london england covid_19 Comments (12)

Slightly different korona update

Central Ostrobothnia, Finland

all seasons in one day 1 °C

Overall situation in Finland

I am relying on Wikipedia on these dates below, somehow even with the newspapers full on information about Covid-19, I couldn’t find any other statistic about the thing but how many have gotten ill.

So, in to the point..

8.3. State Department started to react to the Wuhan situation by recommending people to avoid travelling to China, Iran and Italy and being extra cautious while travelling in South Korea.
Since then more strict regulations has put in to action. One of the first was to recommend people to self-imposed quarantine if you suspect you are ill or have been in contact with someone who is ill, or if you have been abroad.

12.3. Government recommended that all over 500 people events to be cancelled and schools to be closed.

16.3. Emergency Powers Act was put in to service and over 70-year olds were recommended to stay home. Also meetings over 10 people was discouraged.

Theaters, museums, swimming halls, movie theaters etc. were closed until 13.5.

The borders of Uusimaa was decided to keep closed between 28.3.-19.4. Most of the infections was discovered there.

The pubs, restaurants, cafeterias and night clubs are closed between 4.4.-31-5. Kitchens are allowed to kept open, so people can buy food to go or been delivered.

Today (21.4.) Government are going to decide are all the summers events going to be cancelled or not.

Beside the statistic..

In here, where I live, there is no queues outside shops but people are encouraged to keep minimum 1 meter distance to everyone else. Infront of cashiers are now plexiclass and instead of the cashier to giving you your receipt, they have installed machine next to payment terminals to minimize the contact between costumers and cashiers.
Hand disinfectant are at hand practically in entrances everywhere. So are guides how to wash your hands, keep cloves etc.
About mask the guides are contradictory, some say that “Yes, you should definitely wear them” and some say that “There is not much benefit to the common people”. So some wear them, some don’t.

One nice thing has occurred doe to this. People have started to place teddybears in front of windows to kids to spot them. Like “How many teddybears did you spot on todays walk”. Since I don’t have an teddybear I had to improvise a little.

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Tonis nieces idea of an Christmas present, every girl needs her own unicorn

So how have all this affected me..

So far here where we live we have one of the lowest infection rates on whole country.

In my everyday life this pandemic hasn’t affected much. I work as an process operator and make liquid oxygen to the hospitals, among other things, so it is pretty safe to say that my job is secure. Toni (my boyfriend) is an electrician who provides services to the industries so his job is quite secure too. So he keeps working 8AM-4PM during week and I keep my regularly irregular working hours (in a loop I have 2 mornings 6AM-2PM, 2 evenings 2PM-10PM, 2 nights 10PM-6AM and 4 free) and our everyday life is pretty much the same than before. We have some regulations in place in my work and my employer invest in our wellbeing. All who are able to are encouraged to work from home. That is not possible for me, so I still physically go to my shifts.

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Commute. Too early AM.

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Someone is already boating

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Commute

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Commute

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Commute

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Almost home

We rarely eat out so that haven’t changed either and we don’t live in the same city than our families so we don’t visit that often. Maybe once in a month or so. My social life is slightly more focused on phoning and texting than an average doe to my odd working hours so social distancing doesn’t affect too much.

I can see the effects mostly in others. My 5 siblings (I am oldest, by 12 years) are all still in school. My oldest sister is second year in high school, luckily she don’t have her matriculation exams until next semester. But they all, my sister and brothers are doing their classes now from home. One of my sisters assignment from gym class was to climb in to the tree. I wish I had that kind of homework from school!

My brother who plays football and other brother who plays floorball got no practices to go to.

Our friends with children had to be little bit creative in their day-care since everyone still has their own jobs to go to.

Oh, and the toilet paper hoarders! They have attacked here too! I can’t understand it, we have one of the most efficient paper industries in the world and people go and hoard toilet paper. You can’t but laugh.

Most conspicuous change has been to our plans for the summer holiday and summer in general. Our holiday is in next month. Whole Finland is in lockdown so to speak, so no travelling, abroad or other-wise. Our original plan was to do insulation renovation to our upstairs and then make some 2-7 day trip somewhere considering how much time we have left after renovations before we have to go back to work. Romania, Riga and Tampere were on the table.

Every year we go to Iskelmä Festivals in Himos (last weekend on June), but most probably they are cancelled this summer. This year we also talked about Rockfest in Tampere (first weekend on June).

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Something other green than just weeds!

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Bonfire from a day of

But in grand scheme, we are lucky to be well so not too much complaining from here! Hope you are all well and have a good summer!!

Posted by hennaonthetrek 06:31 Archived in Finland Comments (13)

New Conditions in Ukraine

Optimistic and Cheerful

overcast -3 °C

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Linden Alley in Peoples' Friendship Boulevard

Linden Alley in Peoples' Friendship Boulevard

The quarantine was introduced on March 12, 2020 in our country, but later it was extended until April 24. As coronavirus continued to spread in the country, the Government made a resolution on the extension of the quarantine until May 11. According to top officials, Ukraine will have to live in a quarantine of varying degrees of severity for the next two years. Depending on the epidemic situation, the government will introduce this or that mode of restrictions. Many things depend on how consciously the Ukrainians react to quarantine measures. Judging by the latest events in churches, the news can be even more discouraging. Orthodox Easter was celebrated on April 19. Over a hundred thousand parishioners throughout Ukraine stormed churches and cathedrals despite all the strict quarantine bans. Who knows what it may led to. In short, Ukraine has not reached the peak incidence yet…

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Our apartment plants make us happy every day
Eden Restaurant has been closed for over a month

Eden Restaurant has been closed for over a month


Our favorite tree in front of Eden Restaurant

Our favorite tree in front of Eden Restaurant


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A view from our bedroom window...Our favorite trees in front of Eden Restaurant
Eden Restaurant entrance sign

Eden Restaurant entrance sign


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Bas-reliefs of Adam and Eve, Eden Restaurant
Between Adam and Eve, Eden Restaurant

Between Adam and Eve, Eden Restaurant


You will hardly find any other place in the city and throughout Ukraine, where you can stand between Adam and Eve...

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The notorious Decree # 211 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine states that citizens should be wearing a mask or a respirator in all public places (entrances, stadiums, parks, squares, playgrounds, public transport stops, elevators, government agencies, medical facilities, institutions and so on). Therefore, we can find ourselves in an area covered by the definition of "public place" at any time.
We can only move along the street in two. We are supposed to have our IDs always. Every time we go outside, we have to bring our IDs, even if we run out to take out the trash. Probably, this rule was introduced for the convenience of the police. But, of course, we realize that it is not necessary to aggravate the situation when we meet the police without our IDs, because it is much easier to show your ID than to speak out to police officers and to provoke them to act aggressively.

Walking along our boulevard

Walking along our boulevard


A tulip flowerbed

A tulip flowerbed


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People over 60 should still be at home. The authorities think these people are at high risk and therefore need self-isolation, although I would say the virus does not ask the person about his or her age and attacks without thinking.
Nevertheless, all our elderly neighbors regularly go shopping to the nearest store. They wear a protective mask and walk away from home no more than two kilometers. Their IDs will allow the police to check whether they violated the allowed distance of two kilometers from the designated place of self-isolation.
The good news about the ten millions of Ukrainian pensioners is that they have received a lump sum payment of UAH 1,000 - those pensioners whose pension does not exceed 5,000 UAH. The funds were accrued by the Pension Fund automatically, without appeals from citizens.

During our Easter Liturgy via Zoom, April 19

During our Easter Liturgy via Zoom, April 19

The government did not close churches during the quarantine period. However, all public and religious events are prohibited. Authorities are asking people to refrain from visiting the church and to stay at home. The parishioners of our church - the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Severodonetsk - had our Easter Liturgy over Zoom video conference call, and it was great.

Our apartment house dating back to 1953

Our apartment house dating back to 1953


Our homemade masterpieces: Easter bread and Easter eggs

Our homemade masterpieces: Easter bread and Easter eggs


We celebrated Orthodox Easter on April 19. My wife baked traditional Easter bread and boiled Easter eggs. Of course, I provided her some feasible help: I cleaned the crushed walnuts and chopped them for sprinkling over Easter buns. Besides, I brought some traditional red church wine for the table and some tulips. Then the parishioners exchanged the photographs of their holiday tables over Viber and Zoom.

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They cut down all the crowns of poplar trees along Peoples' Friendship Boulevard last autumn (on the above picture - left). Those trees had been planted along the boulevard (former Lenin Street) in the fifties of the last century. The city gardeners called that crown removal "rejuvenation of trees program". I am not an expert in gardening, but the tress look ugly now and represent a sad sight. Throughout the world, this cutting is considered barbaric, since it has a detrimental effect on old trees and often leads to their death. Abroad, they resort to such cutting only in extreme cases. In this case, the slices must be processed so that precipitation does not penetrate the trunk and does not destroy the wood. Nothing of the kind here. Local lumberjacks act ruthlessly, do not apply protective paint over the cuts and often destroy healthy trees.
Whenever we walk along the Boulevard, we feel sorry for poor old trees that grow along it. If the poplars survive, the upper part of trunks will subsequently be covered with new young shoots. The main thing is that poplars survive the rejuvenation. If new branches do not grow, then next spring the trees will have to be eliminated…

Birch trees are not numerous, but nice here

Birch trees are not numerous, but nice here


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A view of Peace Square, Severodonetsk

A view of Peace Square, Severodonetsk


Bas-reliefs at the City Council building, Peace Square

Bas-reliefs at the City Council building, Peace Square

Architectural details on the apartment houses dating back to 1955, Peoples' Friendship Boulevard

Architectural details on the apartment houses dating back to 1955, Peoples' Friendship Boulevard


Architectural detail of an old apartment house built in 1953

Architectural detail of an old apartment house built in 1953

I have been working remotely since March 16 and find it acceptable. Once a week I have to go to the office to fulfill this or that office duty that I cannot do remotely.
My wife is taken to her laboratory located in a neighboring city by the service vehicle.

Sauntering along the Boulevard

Sauntering along the Boulevard


Before the strict ban was introduced, we used to visit our old city park. The park is ten minutes’ walk from where we live. We used to walk around the old Park Lake and discover new paths. Now this pleasure can cost us a fine of UAH17,000 – 34,000 ($650 - $1300), which is from four to eight minimum monthly salaries here in Ukraine. No, thanks. We can wait for better times. Thank Goodness, we have never been stopped by the police not only during this quarantine, but also during our entire stay in this city.

The old city park attracts us

The old city park attracts us


A view of Park Lake

A view of Park Lake


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Sauntering in the old park

Sauntering in the old park

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The park is located in the northern part of the city. It was dedicated on June 5, 1937. Its total area is about 35 hectares.
There were a dozen of pavilions in the park in the fifties and sixties of the last century: a restaurant, an open-air theater, a reading library, and others.
In addition, there was a dance floor, attractions, swings, and fountains. The park comprised about 80 hectares.
Unfortunately, the old city park was "removed from allowance", and all the pavilions, monuments and fountains were neglected in the eighties, and then demolished and levelled to the ground in the nineties. Only one building stands in ruins and nobody really knows what it was...
The new city mayor at least managed to prohibit selling the park territory to the "chosen few" who had planned to build their mansions there...

The only remaining ruins of an old park pavilion of the Stalin era

The only remaining ruins of an old park pavilion of the Stalin era


Walking in the old city park

Walking in the old city park


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We go shopping every week. We usually do our shopping at Simya Network, although there is a store in our apartment house itself. Going to the supermarket offers much more pleasure than just a quick shopping at “your own” store.
We have a quiet “near supermarket” located in our street. It is a compact store that occupies a couple of former apartments on the first floor of an old apartment house.
We often go and a very busy and lively “far supermarket” located about two miles away in Central Avenue.
When we are in a walking mood, we walk to the farthest supermarket located about three miles away at the crossing of Guards Avenue and Kurchatov Street. It is called Silpo Supermarket and belongs to another well-known supermarket network in Ukraine.

Peace Square, our apartment house is on the left

Peace Square, our apartment house is on the left


Our near supermarket

Our near supermarket


Our far supermarket

Our far supermarket


Our far supermarket - Simya in Central Avenue

Our far supermarket - Simya in Central Avenue


Shopping at our far supermarket

Shopping at our far supermarket


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Peace Square and Peoples' Friendship Boulevard
The leisure center belongs to a private chemical corporation

The leisure center belongs to a private chemical corporation


Peace Square Leisure Center was dedicated on May 27, 1967.
The sign at the place of Lenin monument

The sign at the place of Lenin monument


I love Severodonetsk  sign at night

I love Severodonetsk sign at night


This sign stands in the place of the former Lenin monument that was demolished on August 23, 2014.
The place turned out to be perfect for such a meaningful sign.
Our nearest café - Old Town Cafe - has been closed for awhile

Our nearest café - Old Town Cafe - has been closed for awhile

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We do not have to be in a hurry when we go shopping in the evening or on weekend. We can always stand and ponder on our way looking around and taking some pictures. We can even deviate from the straight way home and visit Gogol’s Park located on our way home. Of course, I have never taken camera with me for shopping, but now shopping has become another discovery opportunity. Who can be indifferent to the beauty of the spring blossoms? Therefore, I have some pictures to share.

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The public took patronage of Gogol Square. Supported by the local small businesses, volunteers planted dozens of trees, bushes and shrubs here. In addition, dozens of tons of black soil were brought and spread here.

Magnolia in Gogol Park is in blossom

Magnolia in Gogol Park is in blossom

There are two magnolia trees in this park. They must be the only ones in the city since I have never seen others anywhere in Severodonetsk.
There are eight radii of tracks that converge in the center of the paved area. You can relax on benches installed around the circumference.
By the way, here is a short amateur video about spring blossoms in Gogol's Park.

All roads lead to Gogol in this park

All roads lead to Gogol in this park


Love installation in Gogol's Park

Love installation in Gogol's Park

The new installation in Gogol's Park represents a young man and a young lady holding a huge bright flaming heart. The heart is lit at night. If you look closely, you can see the heartbeat.

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Relax in Gogol's Park

Relax in Gogol's Park


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NIckolai Gogol, we are coming

NIckolai Gogol, we are coming


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The monument to Nickolai Gogol turned out to be the city's most precious monument today. Its history dates back to 1957, when the CEO of the chemical enterprise went to an arts casting factory in Mytishchi, Moscow region, Russia, to purchase monuments for city streets. He bought twelve monuments then and brought them to Severodonetsk, among them the unique Gogol monument created by Nickolai Tomsky, a well-known Russian sculptor. That monument had been ordered, but the customer could not provide the necessary sum, and the director from Severodonetsk, who had money to burn, could. First come (with enough money), first served...

The monument to Niockolai Gogol

The monument to Niockolai Gogol

You can see the great writer's figure wrapped in a cloak. The left hand highly supports the edge of the cloak, the folds of which resemble a Roman toga. The right hand slightly raises the hem of the cloak, as if the person wanted to cross the puddle and not to stain the edges of the cloak. The right leg is slightly bent.

Gogol monument

Gogol monument


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The monument has some features of genre and intimacy, presenting Gogol in a lonely meditation. You feel a need for a round walk, during which you can discover the writer’s character. Coming closer to the monument, you see an unusual posture, as if the depicted hero is under the influence of a sudden thought calling for pondering.
We walk around the monument clockwise further and see a hunched sad romantic person.
From the back of the monument, you feel the movement with which the writer casually threw back the drape of his cloak.
In the half-profile, you can see Gogol’s profile, reminiscent of an actor playing the role of Caesar.
As Nickolai Gogol said once,

“It’s boring in this world, gentlemen!.. I will come up with something else: something like a poem ... Years are such that they ask you for every act: why and what for are you doing it? I saw that in my works I laugh for nothing, in vain, without knowing why. If you laugh, it’s better to laugh strongly and at what is really worthy of universal ridicule.”

Nickolai Gogol, the great genius

Nickolai Gogol, the great genius

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Peoples' Friendship Boulevard was called Lenin Street until September 2015, when it became obvious and was clear that the country should do away with the old Communist idols and names. This is where we are privileged to live now.
The Boulevard is only 1.5 mile long. It is the heart of the Old City. We enjoy walking along this old street. Building No.21 belongs to the Ukrainian Drama Theater. The theater was built in 1952 as a city club. It was completely refurbished and brought back to life four years ago.
We saw our favorite sakuras in blossom and other plants. We also approached two busts to great Ukrainian poets in front of the theater: to Ivan Franko (1856-1916) and to Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861).

The Ukrainian Theater, Peoples' Friendship Boulevard

The Ukrainian Theater, Peoples' Friendship Boulevard


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Taras Shevchenko bust and Ivan Franko bust
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Our favorite sakuras in front of the theater
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The entrance ceiling of the Ukrainian Theater

The entrance ceiling of the Ukrainian Theater


The Ukrainian Drama Theater built in 1952

The Ukrainian Drama Theater built in 1952


Graffiti in our boulevard

Graffiti in our boulevard


Approaching our farthest supermarket

Approaching our farthest supermarket

On Saturday we decided to take a look at our far lake - Lake Chiste located about four miles away from where we live. It was our first visit this year. We saw several white swans who often stay there and walked around the lake. The police vehicle was there hunting for people who had no masks on. We were beyond any suspicion since we had our masks on. It was a great three hours' walk!

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Pine forests are nearby and look very inviting...

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Needless to say, humor is stronger than any virus.
Since April Fool's Day was during the quarantine, we heard some new jokes in this respect.
Here are some of them.

  • - Do you also have someone in your family whom you do not feel sorry for and whom you can send to the store?

- Aren't you afraid to die of coronavirus?
- I have a mortgage, they will reanimate me.

  • After staying at home for several days, I realized why the cat constantly asks for food.

- Are you planning to go somewhere this summer?”
- Yes. In June and July, we will be at home. And in August we want to go to the store.

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  • It was the third day of the quarantine. I accidentally talked with my wife. She turned out to be an interesting interlocutor.

/*/ Due to quarantine, new spring clothes are not needed, and it is still too early to buy summer clothes. You do not know your size yet.

  • I want to contact the buckwheat groats producer. We’ve been in quarantine for one week. Why do you have 27,899 grains in one pack, and only 27,712 in the another one? Are you all completely shameless there?

- SHE: Come to my place, dear!
- HE: I can’t, my love. It’s quarantine…
- SHE: But my parents are not at home…
- HE: What? They should be there!

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  • In the city bus.

- Cough-cough-cough (a passenger is coughing).
- Look, you cough, you have coronavirus!
- Calm down! I have an open form of tuberculosis!
- Huh. Thank Goodness.

  • A friend from China told me it was better not to take the COVID-19 coronavirus, because a new version of COVID-20 will be released in September.

City Collegium in Gogol Park

City Collegium in Gogol Park

No angling in Park Lake now

No angling in Park Lake now


Greetings from Ukraine!

The decorative apple-tree, Central Avenue

The decorative apple-tree, Central Avenue

Quarantine is no reason to be sad! Smile and keep well!

Park walks postponed

Park walks postponed

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The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine held an extraordinary meeting on May 4, 2020. As a result, the government members supported the extension of the quarantine in Ukraine until May 22, but with the introduction of easing restrictions. Thus, from May 11, we will be allowed to visit:

  • parks, squares, recreation areas;
  • hairdressers and beauty salons;
  • summer areas of cafes and restaurants located in the open air;
  • wholesale and retail trade in non-food products (except for shopping malls);
  • enterprises of consumer services;
  • museums and libraries;
  • dentistries;
  • offices of lawyers, auditors, and notaries;
  • team sports training for professional teams.

Visiting Lake Chiste in April

Visiting Lake Chiste in April

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Easing of those restrictions belongs to the first stage.
The second stage envisages:

  • resuming all public services, catering (takeaway service), fitness centers, hotels;
  • resuming graduation classes at schools and sports competitions without spectators.

The third stage involves:

  • resuming passenger transportation within the region;
  • reopening of shopping centers and catering establishments.

The fourth stage means:

  • the public transport and the subway will be resumed.

If the internal transmission of the virus is terminated, the restrictions will be completely abolished.
From May 22, quarantine will become mostly adaptive/local, when local authorities will decide on restrictions. We expect the full lockdown (closing of borders) will be removed. However, restrictions will remain in places of outbreaks of coronavirus throughout Ukraine and may continue until the end of 2020. Fingers crossed!

Winter fun at Lake Chister in December

Winter fun at Lake Chister in December


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Lockdown in Ukraine will be reintroduced from January 8 until January 24, 2021. This decision was announced by the Prime Minister on December 9, 2020 during a government meeting. The Government is planning to extend the quarantine, as well as the state of emergency, until February 28, 2021. Of course, the latest quarantine news caused a stormy reaction on the Internet and in mass media.

Nice winter weather, Park Lake, December 2020

Nice winter weather, Park Lake, December 2020


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Many people address the government with only one request, “Leave us alone!” They are quite harsh about such a forced "winter vacation". Thus, the strengthening of quarantine restrictions will apply to:
• restaurants, cafes, bars – they will only provide delivery service and will accept takeaway orders;
• all educational institutions, except for kindergartens, will be on vacation;
• theaters and movie theaters, as well as fitness clubs, gyms, non-food stores, shopping malls (except for trade in food, medicine, personal care products and household chemicals) will be closed;
• entertainment events, as well as cultural festivals will be temporarily banned.

Enjoying our walk around Park Lake in December

Enjoying our walk around Park Lake in December

What is allowed during the lockdown in January:

  • food trade, operation of supermarkets;
  • pharmacies, banks, post offices, and hotels will operate;
  • beauty parlors and hairdressers can operate only by appointment;
  • public transport of all types will carry passengers within the number of seats. The subway will carry passengers without restrictions on the number of seats.
  • domestic flights will be carried out without restrictions. In relation to international flights, it is necessary to find out the quarantine rules in the country to which you plan to fly.

As far as the Ukrainian resorts are concerned, in particular, Truskavets and Skhidnytsia, during the lockdown the operation of establishments selling food, the operation of hotels, spas and health rehabilitation institutions is allowed in compliance with anti-epidemiological norms and restrictions.

Enjoy your walk around Park Lake!

Enjoy your walk around Park Lake!


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Posted by Vic_IV 00:06 Archived in Ukraine Tagged ukraine quarantine severodonetsk Comments (11)

Adapting

MY BACK GARDEN.          Social Distancing. !

MY BACK GARDEN. Social Distancing. !

MY KITCHEN FRIDGE.    Magnets.

MY KITCHEN FRIDGE. Magnets.

--------I"m in isolation now for over a month, i go to the supermarket once a week. My friend visits me, and we sit in the back garden at social distances. -------My fridge as magnets to remind me of my travels, to over 47 countries in Europe. I did take a ferry across to North Africa to Ceuta.------------

AVENUE OF LIME TREES NEAR MY HOME.  Just in new leaf.

AVENUE OF LIME TREES NEAR MY HOME. Just in new leaf.

WALK FROM SUPERMARKET.

WALK FROM SUPERMARKET.

SOMEBODY ELSE "S GARDEN !

SOMEBODY ELSE "S GARDEN !

FLOWERS AGAINST THE FENCE.

FLOWERS AGAINST THE FENCE.

----The street where i live is an avenue of lime trees just coming into leaf.

My walk to the Supermarket is about 200 metres.
NOTICE AT FRONT OF SUPERMARKET.

NOTICE AT FRONT OF SUPERMARKET.

ANOTHER NOTICE AT SUPERMARKET.

ANOTHER NOTICE AT SUPERMARKET.

-----At the Supermarket, customers wait outside at 2m distances till called to enter- the floor is marked out at 2m areas, one person at a time. At the Cashout the assistant is behind a perspex screen. Near the supermarket is a Fish & Chip takeaway, closed at first, but now i noticed a hand written sign saying, order from outside the front door and please wait at 2m distance from other people. Strange times. STAY SAFE.

I think because of the Virus lockdown here in the UK there are more tidy gardens. There seems to be a lot of dog walkers, do you think they are borrowing dogs. I have noticed that the local store of B & Q have opened with regulations like the supermarkets. Distancing outside and in store. B & Q are a hardware store, D.i , Y. -------------------------------------- The council have changed the way they work on Rubbish collect, { Waste or Trash,} The green wheely bin for garden rubbish is suspended, the reason being is the men in the recycling lorry, are normally close together in the drivers cab, and this is too close for virus reasons. So now the Garden rubbish men will help the recycling van. Pity,Green wheely bin for garden rubbish.

Green wheely bin for garden rubbish.

Green box for plastic and tins,  Middle black box for paper and cardboard,  Other black box for glass.

Green box for plastic and tins, Middle black box for paper and cardboard, Other black box for glass.

for my Garden rubbish bin, because i"ve just cut the back garden grass { i call it grass because its not good enough to be called a lawn.

Posted by alectrevor 01:22 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

The Closing In

Life in Maryland

19 February 2020

I was going to therapy at the local college pool three days a week (M,W,F), and I had physical therapy (for the hip replacement I had in November) at the local hospital one or two days a week (T,Th). And I had long term respiratory therapy also at the hospital two days a week when I didn't have PT.

One of the first indications I had that things were going to change was when I went to therapy in the pool February 17th and said that I had a physical therapy appointment on the 19th at the beginning of a new session, and my instructor said that the pool might be closing early for Spring Break. But the PT appointment was canceled and rescheduled so I could go to the pool on the 19th

I had already seen that the kids that had gone to Italy for a semester abroad had been called home,. The instructor said that someone she knew was on a trip to Spain and had been diagnosed with the virus and was quarantined there. They were talking about taking all the instruction to on-line. One of the other ladies in the pool therapy class was also an instructor at the college. At the start of classes last September her class had already changed to on-line. She said it wasn't going to be that easy.

We normally go out to dinner once a week. I suggested to Bob that if we went down to the little church cemetery in Ridge and photographed the cemetery there, that afterward we could go to Courtney's for dinner. I thought this would get me out of the house and I could use the rollator (which is a walker with a seat) in the cemetery and it would be good exercise for me. He agreed, so we set off about 3:30 and drove down to the end of our peninsula and photographed the cemetery in the fading winter light.
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When Rev. Andrew J. "Joe" Donnick, a student pastor serving St. George Island UMC & First Friendship UMC, was shot by a neighbor in October 2005, St. Paul's, Leonardtown had just gotten an associate pastor. After a period of time where the District Superintendent came down to serve the two churches, the Conference moved the associate from St. Paul's to serve St. George Island & First Friendship. In 2007, the Conference decided to merge the 3 parishes & eventually they created a new "charge"/parish involving the 3 churches & re-named it "First Saints Community Church - A United Methodist Congregation" The 3 existing churches all became "campuses" of the new parish.
Footstones

Footstones


There was only a gravestone - for W.M.B. His wife (N.B.) was buried in another cemetery. But there is some evidence that she was moved back here to be with him.
Ridge cemetery

Ridge cemetery


There were some old stones that were unreadable, but we added 25 new memorials and brought the percent photographed up to 94%.

I had allowed too much time - it was a very small cemetery with only about 100 gravestones. And it was only about 4:30 when we finished. I thought that was too early for dinner so I suggested that we drive up and have dinner at Captain Pats. Bob complained that we would be handicapped by traffic from the Navy base but I said it would all be coming the other direction. And I was right. We got to Captain Pats (which is a very small seafood restaurant) about 5:00.
Brown paper for eating hard crabs

Brown paper for eating hard crabs

Hard crabs

Hard crabs


Bob had half dozen hard crabs and I had spicy gumbo and a fried seafood dinner. I brought some of it home
Spicy gumbo $5.99

Spicy gumbo $5.99

Fried seafood dinner $26.99

Fried seafood dinner $26.99


We went and had our blood tests for the doctor's appointment on Feb 27th and I had PT in the afternoon.

Saturday February 29th, we went to St. John Francis Regis cemetery (a larger cemetery) to take more photos.
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We went in the afternoon because I knew there was a funeral in the morning.
His funeral was in the morning

His funeral was in the morning


It was VERY cold and also windy. I put on a ski mask to keep warm. We managed about 300 photos before our fingers froze off. Both my cell phone and Bob's camera battery died.

March - the noose tightens

On March 3rd Bob and I had an appointment with our GP and were given a clean bill of health. On March 4th, we went to Olive Garden for dinner.

I went to Physical Therapy on the 5th.

March 11th - We got take-out from Smoky Joe's for dinner. I had the chili and BBQ ribs.
Smoky Joe's ribs

Smoky Joe's ribs


Bob had chicken and he had a problem with it. He is finally coming to the realization that he really can't eat chicken.

I had an appointment with my pulmonologist on March 12th. He said my lungs were fine.

On Friday March 13th, another pool instructor who was there said she had classes at the Drill Hall (on the Naval base) and that she had one student in her class whose son was an infectious disease specialist. He said that the pool was the safest place to be because the chlorine would kill anything - just to stay out of the locker room.

The instructor's daughters had been practicing for the musical Frozen. The daughter was Elsa. They did a full run-through on Thursday prior to putting on the show on Friday. But on Friday, the schools closed and the students were told that there were no more athletic events, or field trips for the rest of the school year. An the show Frozen was not presented to the public - only one show for the students.

Monday, 16 March

Bob and I both had our yearly eye appointment in the next county. They called us on Friday and confirmed. When we got there, there was a sign that said the office was closed until further notice. They had called us at home to tell us, but we had already left. So since we were already out, and it was only 9:30, we went to Central Methodist Cemetery and took a whole bunch more photos.
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We added 36 new memorials - bringing the total up to 418 total entries and 99% photographed.

Tuesday 17 March
I did one more PT therapy appointment, but it was difficult - they took my temperature and then I went in to the waiting room but there was a man there who had had a stroke the previous Saturday and he was coughing It made me nervous. Then when I went to leave the officious lady in the lobby said I could not sit down there to put on my coat, and I said I was not going outside without having a coat on, so I sat down on my rollator and put my coat on.

After that both the PT at the hospital and the respiratory therapy closed. The college closed early for Spring Break and they refunded the money I had paid. Because you can't do swim therapy on line.

My oldest daughter phoned to be sure I was taking this seriously. I said we were just going to cemeteries and she said that would probably be safe enough.

Captain Pat's burned down

Wednesday 18th March

I was trying to get take-out for dinner. Smoky Joe's had apparently closed (someone told me later that she had gone and picked up all their food and frozen it to use later). Oga's (fusion oriental) would let me make an order on line and then wouldn't let me finish and the phone didn't answer. The Bottom of the Hill had been sold. So I ordered from the Happy Dragon. They said to call when we were in the parking lot and they would put the food out on the table and they wanted to know how we were paying so they could put the correct change in the bag with the food. I was fine with the food but Bob said it cleaned him out so he didn't want to go there again.

On subsequent weeks we have gotten take-out from Olive Garden, The Front Porch (the expensive restaurant up in town), and finally this past week from Kevins. I ordered soup and prime rib for me and a fish basket for Bob. The fish basket and the prime rib were fine but they gave us the soup cold.

We went back to St. John's cemetery on a Saturday 27 March
St John's cemetery

St John's cemetery


and between us took another 600 photos - we have pretty much covered the "new" section of the cemetery. I have not been out of the house since.
Cats in the tree-Gertie on the bottom and Orange

Cats in the tree-Gertie on the bottom and Orange


Bob took photos of the cats and wanted me to make a collage so he could sent it to PetSmart
Crunch and Orange with the Petsmart letter

Crunch and Orange with the Petsmart letter


All four cats eating - Crunch, Orange, Hidey and Gertie

All four cats eating - Crunch, Orange, Hidey and Gertie



Status now in April

Bob made face masks for both of us.

Bob goes out every day - even if it is only to put food out for the outdoor cat(s) and to get the mail. But he is also driving places.

He goes to the commissary and Walmart and other stores to shop. He says the commissary is full of men who don't know what they are doing. He picks up prescriptions on the base. He goes to the hardware store (he says that they have a restriction on how many people can be in the store and the aisle are marked out so that you can't get too close to anyone.) He goes to the dump a couple of times a week (we don't have trash pick-up) . He says he has to take the cat poop to the dump twice a week or else it is too heavy for him to carry (joke). He says the dump is marked out too and people don't realize that they can just drop off the recycle without backing into a space for regular trash. He goes to BJ's for gas. He goes to the Post Office. He says there is no traffic and he can go all the way down to the base without stopping at any lights.
Summer kitchen with the siding partly done.  I haven't been out to take a photo of the finished siding

Summer kitchen with the siding partly done. I haven't been out to take a photo of the finished siding


He has been finishing up the siding (and painting the window and door frames) on the summer kitchen. He's bought potting soil and has painted the flower boxes.

Also Bob finally was able to give blood yesterday. He couldn't manage it in March because the donation centers closed.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:11 Archived in USA Tagged dining usa maryland cemeteries 2020 physical_therapy Comments (8)

In Ealing, West London, UK

Sarah's experiences

I have lived in Ealing for 39 years, and in our present home in South Ealing for 34 years, but I never knew until a week or so ago that Margot Fonteyn lived near here, or that Agatha Christie’s parents are buried in our local cemetery. I didn’t know that Spencer Walpole, who was Home Secretary under three different Tory governments in the mid 19th century, is also buried there, nor that a local church, less than a mile from our house, is dedicated to his father-in-law, Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated, who used to live in a house on that site.

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In South Ealing Cemetery - grave of Agatha Christie's parents

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Grave of Spencer Walpole

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All Saints Church
~ built in memory of Spencer Perceval

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And the reason I now know about these things? The Coronavirus lockdown in the UK, aimed at restricting the spread of COVID-19, allows us to take some exercise in the form of one walk, run or cycle ride per day. I don’t cycle or run (my usual exercise is swimming, not possible under present circumstances) so I go for a walk, usually with my husband Chris. We are fortunate to have two lovely parks nearby, but they can get busier at weekends and holiday periods (the lockdown has spanned the Easter period), and I also get bored following the same route every day, so we’ve started to explore parts of our locality that we’ve never visited before, including the nearby cemetery. We must have driven past this hundreds of times, and walked past too, but never once ventured inside. And what a beautiful, tranquil spot we have discovered!

So, life is pretty different right now, as it is almost everywhere in the world. But I’m also discovering that each country has its own slightly different response, and so each of us is being affected differently. Part of the purpose of this shared blog is to explore the impact the COVID-19 on all of us – what we have in common and what is unique to our own situation.

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Lilac in our garden

Background: the situation in the UK

In the UK ‘lockdown’ was introduced just over three weeks ago, on Monday 23rd March. Prior to that some advisory restrictions were in place asking anyone with a persistent cough and/or fever to isolate themselves. Anyone with underlying health issues and those over seventy were also advised to self-isolate. The rest of us were free to carry on pretty much as normal, going to cinemas, restaurants, pubs etc., using public transport and going to work or school. Some places had started to introduce their own measures – for example, churches recommended avoiding physical contact between worshippers such as shaking hands as a sign of peace. And there was a run on hand-sanitiser and toilet paper as people became nervous about what was to come.

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Cafe in Ealing Broadway

On Monday 23rd March the government announced lockdown measures. Since then we have been allowed to leave our homes only for one of four reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, as infrequently as possible
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of our household
  • Any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling for work purposes, but only if we cannot work from home

Most shops are closed – only those selling food and drink, and pharmacies, can stay open. Pubs, restaurants, libraries, sports facilities, places of worship – all are closed. Cafés and coffee shops can offer a take-away service if they can do so within the physical distancing rules, and restaurants can offer home delivery. Those shops that are open are limiting the number of customers inside at any time, so queuing has become the norm. When standing in these queues I am often reminded of my mother’s stories about the post-war rationing that was still in place in the early days of my parents’ marriage. She told me she would often see a queue and join it without knowing what she was queuing for, as it was bound to be something hard to get like oranges!

And when we do go out, we must follow these guidelines:

  • Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible
  • Keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household
  • No gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces
  • Take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors

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Plane coming in to land at Heathrow
~ our house is on the edge of a flight path so one blessing at the moment is that we have far fewer planes overhead!

Many people are furloughed – the term used for those not required to work but retained by their employer pending the return to ‘normality’. The government is paying 80% of their wages (up to a limit of £2,500 per day) and there is a similar scheme to compensate the self-employed who are unable to work. But many are falling through the safety nets, or waiting too long to see the money start to flow, so demand on food banks etc. is increasing – more on that later in my blog.

So what about me?

I am more fortunate than most. I am retired and on a decent pension, so I don’t have the financial or job security worries that many others have. I share my home with my husband Chris, so I’m not having to practice social distancing alone. I live within an easy walk of shops and of parks, for my daily exercise. And so far, thankfully, I have avoided catching the virus, nor has it yet touched anyone close to me.

So my main problems are boredom and frustration – that is, not really problems at all in the greater scheme of things. I would love to be able to go to the cinema, meet friends for lunch, see my sister, go out for dinner or even just for a coffee with Chris – but I can’t, which makes life somewhat boring. And I would love to be able to book a holiday, or even several, but I can’t really do that either, or at least not with any certainty of being able to take it, which is what I find frustrating. But I can:

Walk in some lovely local parks and appreciate the coming of spring

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In Walpole Park

Discover new things about our part of west London, Ealing, as I mentioned above

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Primroses in South Ealing Cemetery

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More photos from our walks in the cemetery

Send for take-ways to replicate the dining-out experience at home, which has become our weekly Saturday evening treat

Have virtual get-togethers with friends – so far I have enjoyed an evening drink with a couple of great colleagues from my consultancy work, had several Sunday morning catch-ups with Virtual Tourist friends in the UK and Switzerland, and attended a larger virtual VT meeting involving friends from the UK, US, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Bosnia.

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Celandines

I also have plenty to do. We were fortunate to be able to fit in a holiday just before (or more accurately as) the Coronavirus pandemic started, to Indochina, and I am kept busy with writing up my blog entries on that trip.

And I am very involved in supporting the charity Chris co-founded some years ago, Plan Zheroes, which matches food businesses (caterers, shops, restaurants etc.) who have surplus food with charities who can make use of it. There was a flurry of activity in the first couple of weeks of the lockdown as restaurants that were having to close needed to get rid of the food they had in stock and turned to us to find good uses for it. Likewise caterers found that the workplaces they usually supply no longer needed them and also had sometimes huge quantities of perfectly food that would have gone to waste had we not found charities to take it. At the same time more charities have been getting involved in sourcing food for people who are struggling under the current restrictions, with incomes precarious and children who would normally get a school meal now at home. More recently chefs in some of our partner food businesses have been volunteering their time to cook meals for the vulnerable and/or NHS staff and we are helping them with fund-raising for ingredients and with distribution of the cooked meals.

Talking of the NHS, there has been an upswelling of support here for the doctors, nurses and other health workers who are bearing the brunt of this crisis. Every Thursday evening at 8.00 pm many of us are coming to our front doorsteps, standing on balconies or at open windows to applaud them, and the BBC are even covering this weekly event live on TV. Children are painting pictures of rainbows to stick in front windows with messages of gratitude and support, and so on. Cynics are wondering if these expressions of appreciation will endure beyond the crisis and lead to better funding for the services, but only time will tell, and this is perhaps not the place for politics!

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Signs on a local house and in a shop window

So, I’m doing OK I guess – how are you doing?

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In a local garden

Posted by ToonSarah 00:32 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged parks london england history coronavirus covid_19 Comments (16)

In Hong Kong

Irene's experiences

This blog will be about how I spend my days during the Coronavirus Pandemic, but first I will provide some background information about how this virus has affected us here in Hong Kong.

We got our first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the 23rd of January 2020. The patients were a 39 year old man who had lived in Wuhan and travelled to Hong Kong from Shenzhen before becoming ill and a 56-year-old man from Hong Kong, who had visited Wuhan the week before. At that time I was on holiday in Portugal with my husband and over the next few days started receiving what's app messages from friends in Hong Kong telling me to stock up on facemasks and handsanitizer. They also started sending me pictures of shops with empty shelves and stories of our great toilet paper panic. This rapid reaction to a small number of cases here is because people here are still haunted by the SARS outbreak of 2002/2003. All contagious diseases are taken very seriously here. Incidentally we did buy hand sanitizer in Portugal but could not get face masks for love nor money as the Portuguese government had sent a huge shipment of them to Macau.

Over the Chinese New Year period we had several clusters of outbreaks here. One centred around a large group of people who had gone out for a celebratory Chinese New Year dinner. Another revolved around a Buddhist temple located very close to where I work. More and more people began working from home. People stopped going out. Libraries closed, sports centres closed, some shops closed. Hong Kong's normally busy streets became much emptier and quieter.

Then it started to get better and we all became noticeably more relaxed and started going out again. Unfortunately, this coincided with things starting to get worse in Europe and the USA and lead to Hong Kong residents who were living, working or studying overseas flooding back here. Our number of infections shot up and the atmosphere changed to one of fear and anger about the situation. Now anyone who flies into Hong Kong is tested for Covid 19 at the airport. If you test negative, you go into two weeks quarantine. If you're positive, you go into isolation in hospital

I'm a primary school teacher and should have gone back to work on February 2nd after the Chinese New Year break, but schools were closed down by the education department. At first I had to go into school for meetings and to post work on line. I went into work three days a week. Later we had to start learning how to use Zoom and start doing lessons online. We only had to go to school once a week. Today is April 17th and schools are still closed with no sign of them reopening any time soon.

An average day here for me now involves me getting up around 8am. When I had to go to school, I would get up at 5.50am. I have breakfast then I teach on Zoom. In the afternoons I am planning work or marking work. I receive the children's work by Classdojo or email. I end up marking in the evenings, at weekends and sometimes even in the middle of the night. There seems to be no clear division between working and non-working hours any more.

I am allowed to go out. There is no lockdown here, but going out unnecessarily is discouraged. For a while I was largely only going out to shop. Now, especially since I'm getting very fat, I also go out to exercise. I'm fortunate in that I live in an area of Hong Kong with lots of open spaces and not too many people, so I don't feel nervous about going out. Many people even here where it's quite open wear facemasks. Almost everyone wears these in the more crowded parts of Hong Kong. I wear them on public transport and when I go to the supermarket. I hate wearing them especially as it gets hotter and hotter. Recently the government closed down more places such as karaoke parlours and bars following clusters connected to people going to these. However, restaurants can stay open. I eat out normally just once a week nowadays. I must wear a mask to get into the restaurant. I have to sign a health declaration form. I'm temperature checked and given hand gel to use. Tables have to be at least 2metres apart and there can be no more than four people at a table.

Things are getting better here again, but we still cannot really travel unless we want to be quarantined. Many things are still closed and we keep being told not to get complacent and to prepare for a third wave of infections.

I'll include some pictures of things I have been able to do. A few days ago I went for a walk in a lovely park near my home.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

Next day I went shopping but to get to the shops I walked along our local beach.

Our Beach.

Our Beach.

Our Beach.

Our Beach.

Yesterday I went on a hike and ate out in the evening.

Hiking.

Hiking.

Hiking.

Hiking.

Me with a pile of chairs.

Me with a pile of chairs.

Three people on our table.

Three people on our table.

Walking home.

Walking home.

Walking home.

Walking home.

Doing things like these is possible here because we are coming out of a very bad patch for a second time. Maybe they can provide hope for others that normal life will eventually return.

Posted by irenevt 22:57 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged masks hong_kong Comments (6)

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