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Posts Tagged ‘Slaithwaite’

Introduction.

I recently volunteered to fill in a survey by staff at Manchester Metropolitan – the basic question was ‘How do I feel about the current lockdown situation’. There were questions about home, community, relationships, health and activities included in the survey. The purpose was to create a record of the lockdown from a human, nationwide perspective. I thought it would be good for me too, to record these things for later, so that when I look back, I might remember and understand what I was thinking, doing and experiencing during these unusual times.

I have therefore saved the answers I provided for the survey and have now edited and arranged them here, for my blog.

The lockdown has changed the way we live, at least temporarily. There is much talk of a ‘new normal’ just now, but what that new normal is, remains to be seen. Only time will tell.

The virus.

The virus crept up on us very slowly – at first it was ‘just’ another thing that was infecting China, and then a wider area of S.E. Asia. By the time it reached Europe and Italy decided to lockdown, we began to see unimaginable numbers of people infected and increasing death counts. Sharon and I were in Spain as this began to unfold, but we were lucky enough to have planned our return to the U.K. before Spain was put into emergency measures.

We noticed very quickly that some early measures were being put in place: e.g. on a visit to a consultant in Rochdale in late February, I was asked if I had come back from Europe within the last 14 days. I had, but Spain was (apparently, at that time) okay. My mother is in a care home suffering from dementia and luckily, they saw the potential for disaster quite some time before our government’s isolation measures were introduced and they banned all visits to the care home at least one week before the U.K. was put into lockdown.

Lockdown.

Sharon and I started to self-isolate a week early because we had been with a group of friends’ mid-March and because Betony was due to give birth imminently.

The lockdown, and the fear that came with it (by now the news media had ramped up their facts, figures and warnings) changed life considerably. If we were regarded as vulnerable, over 70 or simply scared, we were not to leave the house for 12 weeks. Others should self-isolate and, if they had symptoms, they should stay inside for 14 days. As I write this early in June, I have friends who, because they fit the vulnerable or over-70 categories, haven’t left their homes for over 11 weeks.

At this point I stopped using public transport and used my once-a-day exercise period to explore the local countryside. Sharon rarely left the house as Betony was expecting her second child at any time (he was eventually born 14th April) and didn’t want to get infected as she was to be the carer for Chester (#1 child) while Betony was confined.  This itself was different to any time prior. Previously, it would have been a grand family occasion and the father could have stayed with his wife throughout – but not this time, Josh had to wait in a car park (around midnight) until called. He only just made it back inside to be there when Hunter was born. He’s now over six weeks old and thriving.

Because of the self-isolation none of us were able to visit family. This has been especially difficult for my 92-year-old father. His inability to see his wife, my mum, in the care home has led to his complete mental breakdown.  He used to visit her twice a week but now cannot. He has said that it is much harder for him to accept than if she had died. He has had tremendous difficulty with accepting or understanding the situation that the country is in. For example, he was very surprised to find, during week nine of the lockdown, that his doctors were closed and that he could not enter the surgery. He phoned to tell me this and I had to remind him that most shops were also closed as well as all the pubs and all the cafes he might normally visit.

Community.

The small town I live in is usually a bustling, busy semi-industrial place that we call a village and during the first months of lockdown it became a wonderfully quiet place to live. The six or so real-ale pubs, the six or so coffee-bar/cafes and two Indian restaurants all closed. All the take-away shops stayed open but other than those, the hub of the village became a well-placed Aldi and the village Co-op. People queued around Aldi and along the road from the Co-op patiently, waiting for their time to be allowed entry. Two metres (or six feet) apart became the norm and even now, after eleven weeks, this distance is fairly well, but not universally, observed. Numbers inside the shops were limited too, something which even the take away shops adhered to.

During the last three to four weeks, the roads in and around the village have become much busier. Some shops have begun to re-open; one Indian Restaurant has opened for take away meals (although there are three other Indian take away’s in the village), the burger shop has re-opened and does deliveries now. More and more people are using the chance to buy hot cooked food and have begun to enjoy eating it al fresco along the canal side** and on other grassy areas roundabouts.

Locale.

We live in West Yorkshire, in a village nestled into the eastern Pennines. The countryside around us is beautiful, especially during this magnificent springtime. It has been a delight to watch the trees unfold, the meadows to bloom and the blossom to come and go. There are signs just now of summer; the brighter colours of spring are now beginning to turn to deeper shades. Our village is in a valley, so there are hills all around. What’s more, it is an old industrial mill-town through which both railway and Industrial Revolution canal pass.

The canal has become a pedestrian walking/cycling motorway over the weeks of lockdown, especially during the many bank holidays we seem to have had.

Home life.

At home, very little has changed. Sharon’s work has become more intense but as she works from home, online, over 22 hours per week, she has been able to spread much of that work out. She is the course manager for a company offering online Access Courses.  Much of her normal work has had to be postponed because of the changes required by awarding bodies, for those wanting to start university this autumn. My own (average 1hr per day) online work has been furloughed until the end of June. We have both been fine.

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Not being able to see my father has led to problems, but my mother remains well cared for as before. I’ve kept in telephone contact with my own grown up children but still have Easter gifts we were unable to deliver for my grandchildren. I’ve made a point of calling retired or furloughed friends on the phone to see how they are doing, or passing by the end of their garden for a socially distanced chat. Other friends and I have regularly exchanged funny pictures, jokes and videos – all have helped me to stay sane.

Typical day.

There hasn’t really been a typical day in lockdown – perhaps a series of ‘differently’ typical days. One day for example, I started making a loaf of bread* at 07:00am and while that was proving I completed my ablutions before going to Aldi for some essentials. After that and while the bread baked, I read a little, did some quizzes and games (brain games) on my iPad, checked my emails and looked on Facebook. I am also following a Duolingo course, learning Spanish – it only takes up 15-20 minutes a day and my progress is slow, but I am enjoying it.

Lunch that day was a sandwich made with two slices of the newly baked bread and some left-over chicken pate. After lunch, I got out my jigsaw board and spent an hour or so working on that. About 15:00pm Sharon and I went out for a walk. The weather was gorgeous and we set off along the canal westwards, before heading up the hill (right up), and back around the other side of the village. We were out maybe 75-90 minutes. When we got back I made some fresh pasta (110g strong flour, 1 egg and a dessert spoon of pesto) for tea. To go with this, I’d defrosted some spicy tomato sauce which I’d made earlier in lockdown.

After our evening meal, as it was Saturday, we logged on to a Zoom-quiz hosted by a friend at 20:00pm.  He has up to 16 participants each week from all over the world. I also host a quiz for friends on Wednesday evenings – just six couples (which means we have to have 2 x Zoom sessions to overcome their 40-minute limit on free accounts).

* I suppose these activities haven’t really been new. Baking bread for example, I’ve done it before, but as we’re blessed locally with a superb artisan bakery I haven’t needed to bake for years. During lockdown however, I have perfected both my white and my brown bread skills. I thoroughly enjoy the kneading, the proving and the baking – it’s so rewarding. To do this I had to buy 16k of flour online as all the supermarkets were sold out. I’ve also spent the odd day bulk cooking, for the freezer, so that more of the other days can be enjoyed, rather than be spent preparing meals. Finding yeast became an issue, but I found some at a local farm shop.

Entertainment.

At other times, we’ve spent the evenings watching some of the theatre productions put out by various companies: Andrew Lloyd Weber, The National Theatre etc. YouTube has been a revelation! We’ve also started (and are presently 3/10ths of the way though) the entire series of Friends. We now have a login to Disney and have begun to watch the Star Wars films in order as well as The Marvel series (in some kind of order). We’ve finished watching the most recent series of Bosch and Outlander on Prime and the occasional film on Netflix.

Health.

I see myself as healthy, for my age (68). I am fairly fit, my walks involve distance (although not as far as pre-lockdown, because of the necessary solitariness), hill climbs (which have improved my recovery time) and regularity. I now walk more miles per week than pre-lockdown. I stopped eating fatty snacks EVERY day after a few weeks of lockdown and feel better for that. My own treatments have not been affected but those of my father have been.

Just before lockdown I went with him (he’s 92), to his doctors, and two hospital appointments were made as a result. One was exploratory and the other was to update his hearing aids as he is quite deaf.  Both were cancelled, so now over three months later, he still cannot hear and has still not been diagnosed.              

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**

Remembering lockdown.

The thing I hope to remember the lockdown by will be the wonderful weather we have experienced. The trees going through their leaf-growing process during April, their unfurled colours in May, along with the spring flowers burgeoning throughout. And all the walks. Wonderful.

The thing I want to forget. My father’s suicidal deterioration.

 

Picture Credit. Not sure to whom the b/w photo belongs. All credit to them for that. Others, my own.

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It’s been a busy month!

On Monday 30th July, we moved into our new home. That being said, it’s taken until now to get halfway settled. Our new home is a new-build, and for us a downsize 😀.

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So, besides having to chuck a load of stuff away, we’ve also had to buy furniture that has lots of ‘hidden’ storage. Yea for IKEA. I’m sure that others might have said that it was bound to happen but – we had some issues with IKEA’s delivery service. Because the new apartment’s postcode cannot be found on large company databases we had to visit the store in Leeds to make and pay for our order. That was Monday.  They, the delivery area folks at IKEA said it would be delivered “tomorrow’ – Tuesday, “between 10:00am and 16:00pm”.  Whoo-oo.

We’d given the project manager’s postcode (she lives just up the same road) and off we went looking forward to a day building stuff.

19:00pm came before we were finally told that the delivery would now come “tomorrow’ – Wednesday, “between 10:00am and 16:00pm”.  And so, it did, mid-afternoon with no more than two minutes warning (which is 58 mins short of that promised). They also delivered a few other things addressed to other people in Halifax and in Huddersfield. As we were going out later to spend the evening with friends being entertained by Robbie Hunter-Paul at Elland golf club, we only managed to complete half of the delivery, which was itself ONLY HALF of the order we’d delivered. Sharon phoned IKEA on Thursday and asked whether/if/when our order might be completed.

Someone eventually phoned back and said that Leeds IKEA had now run out of stock (of the main item missing) and that they had re-ordered it via the Ashton-under-Lyne branch.  It would be delivered on Friday between 07:00am and 19:00pm.  We received another phone call on late on Thursday to say this wasn’t now going to happen as Leeds had found the missing half of our order. We eventually had the final items from our order delivered on Saturday. We’d told IKEA about the extra items (Halifax and Huddersfield) but the delivery guys were not interested. Charity shop then?

Whoo-oo, we have storage.

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Well, I’m sure that others would have carried out much more research than me (us), but arriving in our new home and finding that the T.V. aerial didn’t work came as quite a shock.

There IS an aerial, and an aerial wire, but nothing comes out of it! Bugger!!

So, once we’d begun to come out of our ‘just moved’ stupor we began to think of how we could get a T.V. signal again. We do have (at the time of writing – had!) a Humax machine that allows us to record Freeview so we were able to watch already recorded stuff, whenever we found the time.

So we found an aerial guy in the paper and called him. He came around; he fitted a Manhattan Freesat box and away he went. Well actually, it wasn’t as simple as that. 

I’d asked him to tell me why the aerial lead wouldn’t work and after a few minutes he was able to tell me that we don’t have an aerial. First of all ‘doh!’ I could have looked and seen that, but knowing that our new house had a satellite dish; I’d have thought (very wrongly) that THAT worked as an aerial – it doesn’t. He pointed out that Slaithwaite couldn’t see the Emily Moor transmitter without a 12-15 foot high aerial on the roof (we have no chimney stacks to fasten these to) and that for us to get anything at all it would have to be pointed at the Cop Hill relay, which would give us less stations and ‘some ghosting’. So when he mentioned Freesat – what could I do!

Only when he’d fitted the box (with all the resulting chopping and changing of wires) did he say ‘oh, you have a Humax’ (actually he didn’t even then, only when I asked how we would connect the new Freesat box to the Humax did he say ‘you can’t!‘). It’s not that the Humax was hidden; he’d had to move it to get to the back of the T.V. What he could have said, had he not been keen to just get one of his own units fitted washa – you have a Humax! That won’t work with Freesat, if you want to pause live T.V. and record programmes, you’ll need a new Humax (e.g. Freesat Recorder) – I can get you one of those and have it fitted by the day after tomorrow”.

But he didn’t.

And only belated, extensive research has found the unit we need (should have had if the research had been carried out earlier). And we need it because we’ve become used to recording the programmes we like and watching them when WE want, not when they are broadcast – and pausing them, or live T.V. while we make a cup of tea. Grrr.

Anyone got any advice on new T.V.s?

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Moving house earlier this month was one of the most strenuous, stressful, scary and time consuming things I’ve done in many years. At the same time, it has been an enlightening, liberating, joyful but very tiring experience.Front room

This is not the first time I’ve moved house, not by a long chalk, but it’s the first one since I became a sexagenarian – I was worn out right through the following week and now, two weeks later, one elbow is still giving me trouble. Tschh!

However, all the boxes are now unpacked or in the attic waiting for decisions (do we open them? do we leave them until the next move? – if there is one, or [my preferred option] do we throw them away?).

Sharon has done a magnificent job of turning the house we bought, into a home. It really does feel like we’ve lived here for ages now. I wish I had the patience 🙂

Our new home has a very modern kitchen. It’s all coloured glass, superbly made, considerately designed and yet, utterly impractical. It is lovely, don’t misunderstand me, but it’s not what I – the chef, would have designed. All except for one cupboard is too high for Sharon to easily use and some are too high for me to use regularly. So I assume that the previous occupants used them more for long-term storage than for everyday use. There are voluminous drawers under the work surfaces – they hold cutlery, crockery, ceramic cooking vessels and all of my knives and cooking tools. There’s even one that cuts around the double sink, allowing us to store cleaning products in the narrow channels. But, it seems such a shame to open one of these multi-purpose drawers to simply take out a knife – surely they will wear out/break in time. Who knows!Slawit

Having said all that, the kitchen is our new home’s focal point and I love it. It is huge; it is full width of the house and half its depth. The fitted cooking appliances are either Smeg or Neff, so there’s no lack of quality there. We’re currently researching new appliances to fit in too.

We’ve always had a scarcity of fridge space and I’ve previously used up to three small freezers to accommodate the cooking I do. We want to start again with cold storage, so began by looking at ‘American’ fridge-freezers. But they are not like American fridge-freezers! Certainly not like the ones I’ve seen at Gail’s house(s), all of which have vast spaces that can store all manner of groceries and ‘stuff’. We therefore look like settling on buying one of each – a larder fridge and a compatible (same size, same look) freezer. We’ll see.

Since leaving Linthwaite in 1996, I’ve not lived in a house where I’ve had to climb a full set of stairs. I have lived in bungalows, ground floor flats or more recently a split level house where no more than six or seven steps were needed to be climbed at a time, to any floor – so now that we have a wide Victorian style staircase to climb every time we go to bed (or the loo) – we can relish the thought of maintaining our fitness. As long as our knees hold out. 🙂

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Finally, we have signed to sell our house. [see] We move out next week.

After four years of trying, we are finally able to look forward to moving house.

Home for 11 years

Selling wasn’t an easy decision; we love where we live and have been here for almost eleven years, but as I get closer to retirement age, we simply cannot afford to stay. We are leaving our large and increasingly unmanageable garden at its very best: the rhododendrons are in full pink and lilac bloom, both laburnums are dripping shiny bright yellow flowers and the flouncy, crimson peonys are about to bloom; now just a couple of days away from opening. It all looks gorgeous.

Yet the house we have found to move to has no garden.

Who knew what compromises we would make when the time came? We each had a mental list of what we could and couldn’t do without as we moved down the housing ladder, but ‘no garden’ wasn’t on either list. Yet, on the plus side of the move is the fact that our new home will be right in the centre of Slaithwaite, our local village and with that location comes easy shopping, easy transport and easy walking/cycling.

Golcar church

Where we live now, there are no roadside footpaths and each of the bigger villages is one and half miles away. Buses come (on average) every 90 minutes (one per hour during the day but not 8.30am or 3.30pm – every two hours after 6.00pm and every two hours on a Sunday): so having trains and buses close by should improve our mobility.

Our new (to us) house has three good-sized bedrooms, two of which have stripped-back-to-brick chimney breasts, there’s a WC with bath and separate shower and a fair sized attic storage area. The living room also has a stripped-back feature chimney breast, into which we hope to fit a multi-fuel stove. The south-facing kitchen is huge; full width of the house. It is fitted with colourful Ikea (we think) units and has French Windows opening onto a Juliet Balcony, which overlooks the village itself, and the slightly more distant hills.

The house is one of three (six really) formed from what was once a British Legion club. Each of the main three houses has a separately owned one-bedroom under-dwelling, utilising what would once have been the cellar area.

So there we are – moving house. Scary but exciting times.

 

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I am a beer drinker.

That doesn’t mean that I drink a lot of beer, but I do like the odd glass.

I prefer beer to wine, Champagne, Cava, spirits and pop (soda). I don’t mind any of those drinks, I don’t mind them at all – but I generally prefer to drink beer.

I like draught beer.

I don’t dislike the beer that comes in tins or bottles (although, they are a story to themselves), I simply prefer beer on tap; the draught beer that can only be purchased in pubs. I like the texture of draught beer and these days, the variety of tastes and colours with which it now presents itself.

I don’t visit pubs all that often; sometimes just once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. Unless I’m walking I rarely have more than a pint and on the odd occasion I have more than that, Sharon will drive. I don’t go for company at the pub, I go for the beer – and to relax away from home for an hour with Sharon, as we both (often) work from home. It’s a break.

Locally, I am blessed with a variety of pubs that serve an ever changing variety of beers on tap. My preference is The Commercial in Slaithwaite. http://www.commercial-slaithwaite.co.uk/. If we go out during the week, it used to be there that we went – pretty exclusively. But not so much now.

Why?

Because, at the time we go (early evening, before dinner) you cannot get to the bar for all of the lazy, ignorant tossers leaning on it! I could understand if the place was heaving, but at that time it’s just pleasantly busy with lots of room around the place – we never fail to get one of the comfy settees they have. Neither would I mind if those folks moved back from the bar just while I looked at what was on offer this week (sometimes, just tonight) and gave my order, but more often than not an “excuse me please” just gets a grunt and once I even got a “can’t you read the fucking blackboard?” (ignoring the fact that the blackboard can’t serve me) – but he was pissed and reprimanded by one of the other regulars.

What is it about leaning on a bar that makes people forget that others need to get by?

All I want to do is walk to the bar, choose a drink, pay for it and then walk away, sit down and drink it. What’s hard about that? What makes people so ignorant that I want to change my watering hole?

Rant over.

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