Covid-19

Covid Isolation Week 11 Day 2 – domestication

It comes to something where I have a day off work and do nothing other than clean the house…. that’s how bad this lockdown is getting.

That’s a slight exaggeration – my new found domesticatedness started just before lockdown but it has certainly been cemented as a habit. I tend to now sort things when I spot they need doing instead of leaving them to another time. It has helped massively on the domestic front and has helped keep all those petty housework arguments to a minimum.

So today has been a day of tiding the kitchen and giving it a good deep clean. In between that my parents dropped some shopping off from Cristyn and we arranged to go for a socially responsible, regulation distance, walk over Beechwood park later in the week. I’m hoping that on Friday the Welsh government start relaxing the rules slightly – certainly I’m hoping to be able to drive somewhere else for a walk.

Anyway… the normal walk isn’t too bad 🙂

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Still good…

Covid Isolation Week 10 Day 6 – films and box-sets

There are many things keeping us going over the long lock down – not just debating the actions of politicians and their special advisers. Films and box-sets have been great….some new finds, some old classics.

So for today’s post here are the top ones for the past 10 weeks.

Films:-

  • High Fidelity 
  • Grosse Pointe Blank
  • Knocked Up
  • 10 things I hate about you
  • Point Break
  • Old School
  • School of Rock
  • Super Bad
  • Leon
  • Breakfast club
  • Knights Tale
  • Breakfast club
  • Ferris buglers day off
  • The Hangover

With some great series being:-

  • Line of Duty
  • Better Call Saul
  • The Wire
  • Ozarks
  • Killing Eve

 

Covid Isolation Week 10 Day 3/4 –

More of the same… but things seem to be moving to lifting restrictions, being able to meet outdoors – not until the end of next week but there is hope. I’m not sure how wise or how damaging this might be but I get the feeling that there is a move to open things up as a vaccine might not be here for a long while.
Which leads to the question of what we do as things start lifting?
I’m 100% sure I don’t want to get it and if it were just me I’d happily isolate for the rest of the year.

But it’s not just me and Steph and Isaac are far more social… it’s a tricky call.

Plus we could all do with a holiday to look forward to….somewhere, sometime soon… somewhere other than the regular route:

Anyway, Isaac continues to face-time his friends and nag me about a YouTube channel… which I’ve been putting off but might relent next week in half term. In the meantime I’ve been teasing him with some photoshoping…

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Still good – still stir crazy

Covid Isolation Week 10 Day 2 – The lock down grind, grinds on

It really is getting boring now… I’m even bored of the same walk in the nature reserve. On the plus side Isaac is now proficient in his tables, forwards and backwards – except his 12s but then who uses their 12s. His school work seems a little on the easy side overall, with him normally powering through three days worth of maths in an hour. Even his English seems to be flying along – but it’s hard to judge given the lack of contact with other parents.

Steph has started taking him for a run each morning to try and up the amount of activity he’s doing. So far they’ve both enjoyed it – long may it continue.

I think the bit I’m stuggling with is the disrupted work pattern.

I start at 7:30…get online…and work through until 12:30. Then lunch and schooling Isaac, usual walk…and then try and get back online to work around 3, finishing about 17:30. What I find is that I’ve jut cleared my emails and caught up with people when it’s time for lunch….and then after lunch there never seems enough time.

First world Covid problems.

Anyway today’s walk…

Covid-19 Symptom Check

A O K

Covid Isolation – Week 9 Day 6/7

The other thing I’ve noticed recently, although I’m sure it’s been going on for a while, is the creeping politicisation of the Covid response.

At the start there was general support for the steps taken which went hand in hand with a unified response. Now that Boris is taking a different approach there are both people criticising him for being too bold and others for being too cautious. Having watched most of his speeches I think he’s trying to thread a delicate balance between allowing sensible interactions and sensible encouragement of the economy. The problem is that nuanced messages tend to not work – it’s the simple black and white ones that generally work best. All those delicate instances needed people to use common sense just get distorted by the media playing the whatif game…let alone common sense not being that common.

So the options for me and my family are quite simple… we’re aware of the risks and have no intention of letting up the careful approach to life. 

That said Steph spent some time with Rhian, partly for her birthday and partly to catchup with her after her mastectomy. In a sign of how the virus is changing healthcare – she was in and out of hospital in a day, left to recuperate at home and taught how to do her own drains. Again I wonder how this approach will carry on once all this is behind us (if we ever get there). If people are capable of doing themselves some of the trickier procedures needed for recovery from surgery – why keep them in hospital longer than needed with the associated expense.

We also met up with Cristyn and the girls in the woods. Another supposed social-distance catch-up where the kids tried their best to keep apart – but it’s hard when you’re that age. Lots of fun though and Isaac loved being able to play with the girls.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

All good in the hood…

Covid Isolation Week 9 Day 5 – Slower pace

Another Friday, one week after the street party and so far no symptoms…not that I thought we’d taken that much of a risk.

My parents came over for another socially distant walk… which never keeps to a 2m distance, especially when my Mum wants to show pictures she’s taken. Still it was good to see them and catchup.

My Mum was talking about the effects of lockdown on them and the fact that for them a slower pace of life has just made them feel older. There might be something to this… normally they’re very busy and always off visiting, having meals out, coffees, seeing sights… but now a lot of that is curtailed and certainly my Mum is finding it quite boring. There’s bound to be an impact of that on the older generation – and I wonder if this will contribute to a drop in the average mortality age.

The walk we normally go on takes us along the canal by the M4 and there is definitely more traffic – more lorries, more cars. I can’t see them sticking to the strict lockdown in Wales for long but I suppose it depends on the level of infection. One report has estimated that 19m people in the UK have had it, while another puts the current level of infection in the general populous at only 1 in 400 (0.25). If both of these are right then a lot of people will have some immunity and the chances of you meeting someone with it is very low. So there may be a case to lift the restrictions….time as always will tell.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

I’m now more worried about my weight than the virus 🙂

Covid Isolation Week 9 Day 4 – Shop shop shop shop shopppping

Today has been all about shopping – which has now turned into a three hour round trip and a huge alcohol bill. On the bright side however, we’re not spending anything on socialising, meals out or takeaways. I know a lot of the guys are regularly hitting up the local Indians and Chineses but we’ve stuck to just home cooked food. You’d think we would have also lost a bit of weight with the healthy eating – but there has been very little healthy about what we’ve been cooking. 

Part of the shopping run was dropping a few bits over to my sister and instead of jumping in the car I decided to take the opportunity to walk over as it was a nice day. I was surprised on how many people were up at the ridgeway – numbers on our normal walk have been creeping up but the cafe at the ridgeway was doing a roaring trade… It all contributes to that sense of it all easing and people eager to get back to normality.

Anyway one of the treats for Isaac on arriving at Auntie Cristyn’s was freshly hatched little chicks (Polish Bantams)….he was very excited 

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Starting to think it’s all been a big con 🙂

Covid Isolation Week 9? Day 3 – CPAP not CRAP

So England are starting to try and get back to normal while the Celtic nations stay fully locked down.

In some ways I’m grateful in others jealous of not being able to go somewhere – even if it’s just for a change of scenery.

In other new Steph has her CPAP machine – I think it’s going to take some getting used to. The noise isn’t loud but it is constant – I can’t really complain as it’s 100% better than the snoring lol.  But it must be hard breathing with a constant flow of air being blown up your nose – a bit like trying to breath walking into a strong gust of wind. I’m sure she’ll get used to it.

Isaac continues to struggle with the lack of contact with people his own age – not helped by the free for all video calls he has with his class. The first one was a car wreck, trying to coral 30+ kids on essentially a big conference call. The subsequent ones have been smaller affairs but still he feels like it’s hard to get a word in over some kids who seem to just be completely unaware that they should let anyone else speak… thinking on it there are a lot of adults like that as well.

It’s been a bit of a nothing week – apart from an interesting email…but more about that some other time.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

All still good

 

Covid Isolation Week 8 Day 7 – Covid Confuddlement

So the four nations of the UK are each seemingly taking different approaches to the continuation of lockdown. Or the Celtic nations are taking a more cautious approach to all this than Boris.

Here in Wales the message is still stay at home, the only big changes being that you can go out and exercise locally more than once a day. Which is similar to Scotland and Northern Ireland which extended the stay at home message a few days ago. 

Where as for England – it’s a whole heap of confusing things.
Go outside as much as you like – and if you want to drive somewhere new for a bit of a change…off you go.
Picnic on a beach or in a park – go for it!
Can’t work from home – well then really you should be trying to get into work! Just don’t use public transport…

So if the R value wasn’t already on the rise due to the bank holiday fun…then it absolutely will now.

 

Covid-19 Symptom Check

What’s that coming over the hill…is it a monster

Covid Isolation Week 8 Day 5 – VE Day normality

So I predict that towards the end of next week there is going to be a spike in cases… 

Encouraging everyone to have a drink in their front gardens or on drives was a great idea in theory. The reality was a load of people, starved of social interaction, all getting drunk together. And when people get drunk all those inhibitions go, along with sensible judgement.

We ended up having a BBQ with the neighbours opposite while having various people from the street  wander up to join us. It was great and I met a good number of people from the street that I never would under normal circumstances.

But was the 2m exclusion maintained….hell no!

Not as bad as Sam though who had a full blown party on the green outside his house – which ended up getting broken up by the police at 10pm. He even had to carry one of his neighbours home…social distancing lol

So the prediction is that cases will start creeping up in about a week…the R value was just under 1 so it won’t take much for the rate of infection to start increasing again.

Anyway it was a well needed break from the drudgery of lockdown – just hope we didn’t pick anything up.

In earlier news….we met this pair while out walking….what are the chances 🙂

Covid-19 Symptom Check

…5 days and counting….maybe 🙁

Covid Isolation Week 8 Day 4 – New Laptop….Yay!

So the laptop finally arrived – 3 week from a plant in China.

I vaguely debated leaving it for a few day but then realised the mammoth trip from China would kill off any virus on it. So new toy to play with, lots to install and work out.

It’s very shinny…. and cool…

Anyway the big debate in the press is whether restrictions will start to be lifted. There’s an announcement on Sunday and all the speculation is that people will be allowed to go out more and stay home less.

I’ve mixed feelings on it. On one hand, although I’ve quite liked the pace of life in lockdown it is starting to get a bit boring… or more accurately I need to see something other than the same 4 walls and the same walk in the woods. But the risks are still there… people are still dying and there are no effective vaccines on the horizon. I can’t remember who said it but I thought it was apt… lifting restrictions is nothing other than the government saying – we’ve got room for you in ICU.

We’ll see what happens – certainly there’s no need for us to head back to work anytime soon and schools are still going to be shut at the start of June….so for the time being nothing much will change. On the bright side I’m spending hardly anything at the moment.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Still good…

Covid Isolation Week 8 Day 1 – Things are waking up

People are getting fed up of lockdown.

The media is just full of talk about how lockdown can be lifted…article after article about how other countries are lifting restrictions… it’s probably one of the most dangerous times. 

On our daily walk today we saw probably 25-30 people out and about. Normally that is less than 10….we even had to walk slower up the steep slope home.

Everyone is desperate to get back a little bit of normality.

…and yet in China they’ve just imposed news restrictions in Beijing and the US is talking about 100k deaths.

I’ve said to a few people that I think this will be a sombrero curve of a pandemic. There will be a second wave , people are getting complacent and the problem with this virus is that we don’t know the impact of lifting restrictions until 5 days after. We could change something that’s critical and then not know the impact until it’s too late. And the other compounding issue for al of this is that no one is measuring this stuff in the same way – so modelling different approaches is harder (or there is more guess work).

But there is good news…. the NHS is coping (or hasn’t critically failed or been over run). The new Nightingale Hospitals have been miraculously under used. The emergency production of ventilators – not needed. Capacity was ramped up quickly – just in case…and hasn’t been needed. That is unless the 2nd peak is worse than the 1st – which I don’t think it will be given how cautious people will be.

However, life is still going to be very strange until they get a vaccine… 

The other activity we did today on our walk was to try and spot as many different types of animal/insect as possible….here’s the list:-

  • Ants
  • Bumble bee x2
  • Crow
  • Dog x 3
  • Robin
  • Green Dock Beetle
  • Horse Fly
  • Horses x4
  • Earthworm
  • Common blue butterfly
  • Cabbage white butterfly
  • Red and Black Froghopper
  • Sheep
  • Cows

Covid-19 Symptom Check

The force is still with us

Covid Isolation Week 7 Day 4 – Bad parenting

So today was a lesson in parenting traps and how it’s so easy to fall headlong into one.

Isaac is obsessed with superhero’s – unsurprisingly given he’s 7 and they’re everywhere…..everywhere…

So for a long time he’s watching youtube clips about Avengers, playing Avenger lego games, watching lego shorts based on the avengers. And today had been particularly slow (as we both had meetings and calls) so at the end of the day I’m sat down with him and he asks if he can watch Avengers.

Now he had seen Captain America while in Saundersfoot with his Thad-cu – and I thought what would the harm be if I’m watching it with him.

So I agree – he trots off, gets the film, excitedly works out how to use the XBox to play Blu-rays….and we settle in for the film.

All goes well…the Avengers meet, bicker, fight, assemble, bicker…and then finally capture Loki…

Lots of bantery exposition followed by more bickering and then it all goes to hell (we’ve all seen it)…Big Green goes crazy, explosions, crisis, engines blow up and Loki escapes…

And then Coulson pulls a gun on Loki…. and suddenly Loki is behind him delivering a seemingly fatal stab…

Isaac goes quiet…

The film continues….Thor is ejected…

Isaac is still quiet….then pipes up “There’s too much blood, I want to play minecraft!”

I try and chat to him about….but I’m confronted with a few tears and him saying he didn’t realise this was a horror.

….and at the moment I was completely floored. Yes he’s a 7 year old who’s favourite minecraft activity is slaughtering everything in sight, who loves play fighting and nerf guns. But in all of that I’d missed that he was just a 7 year old boy not prepared for the pivotal shock moment of the film…not ready to see a good guy fail and die.

Bad Dad moment…

We talked about it afterwards and he knows its all pretend….but still…lesson learnt… keep to the ratings…

Where is Coulson in the current MCU? - Quora

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Better the Coulson

 

Covid Isolation Week 7 Day 2 – Rain rain rain rain beautiful rain

Two interesting things happened today:-

  • I learnt that a little bit of rain stops 95% of people venturing outside
  • I got offered a Data Scientist role in work

 So all in all a good day.

The data science role is one I’ve been cheering for and promoting for a while and when the opportunity came up I went all in. It’s definitely my area of interest so it’s great to get some alignment between work and play interests.

One of the key things that nailed it (probably) was my summary diagram:-

This focused not just on the crunching of data but importantly on how that data is then conveyed.

I like it and so did they…

As for the wet weather – it didn’t stop me and Isaac having our normal ramble…

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Damp but doing good

Covid Isolation Week 6 Day 1 – close call

I actually came close to thinking I might have contracted the virus….close.

I was aching yesterday morning from the Chest and Triceps workout the day before but then about lunchtime I just got hit with a wave of tiredness…accompanied by a killer headache. It was to the point where I had to go to bed – and pretty much just passed out for a few hours. Even after that I didn’t feel right – slightly light headed and ‘spacey’. However, temperature remained ok and after a good night’s sleep I felt a whole load better.

I’m putting down to over working and not getting enough sleep – but I really did think it might be Covid at one stage.

So today was back to the normal weekly routine, which Isaac has been getting used to (last week he was great all week), but today he had a wobble. Not sure why it started with school work and him essentially trying to get us to do his work for him – but it quickly spiralled into a full on meltdown. Now this isn’t the first time and given the current situation isn’t surprising – we’re all feeling the frustration, but it’s almost as if his frustrations build up to a point where it has to hit a crisis point before it can get better. After his melt-down he was back to being his normal wonderful self for the rest of the day. 

I need to start working our the warning signs and start trying to defuse them ahead of a meltdown – easier said than done.

But we did have a great walk in the woods and across the ridgeway…

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Close but ok so far

Covid Isolation Week 5 Day 6 – it’s been a busy week

Not sure if it’s people finally getting settled into this new way of life – but this week has been full on busy. Mainly work and requests coming in left and right but also home life seems to have been more full on.

So there has been less time to blog.

I’m also starting to find it frustrating that I’m not getting time to work on a few side projects with the new routine. I suppose gone are those few hours each week where Steph would be off doing her thing – leaving me to catchup on things. Hopefully now that people are getting into the lockdown groove and it seems more like a normal routine then this will improve. I’m also hoping that getting a new laptop will mean I can continue doing a few things without having to head up into the attic. I’m actually (quite sadly) looking forward to getting the new laptop – I need to have a think about what to get installed on it (I might turn that into a post).

Anyway the virus continues to impact people – death rates remain high but look to be peaking.

The big question is what’s next and that is linked to how much of the population has been exposed to the virus. The testing rates are well publicised but what we don’t know is how much of the untested public has encountered Corona and developed antibodies. 

There are two potential views on this – that the virus has spread further in the population or that lockdown has been very effective and kept the spread to a minimum.

If the virus has spread further than expected – following NY where initial general population testing has shown 1 in 5 have antibodies (NYTimes article), then potentially the virus isn’t as strong as previously thought and measures can be relaxed as fewer will need critical care.

Conversely, there was a California serology studies that put the figure of general infection there at 2-4%. Which if this was the case in the UK would show that lockdown had been successful in keeping the peak below the ICU capacity but would mean there was a long road ahead.

Interesting article here:-

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/antibody-surveys-suggesting-vast-undercount-coronavirus-infections-may-be-unreliable

Either way, even if the death rate is lower than 1% it’s still going to mean far more people suffering and losing loved ones and we will easily pass the governments initial aim of keeping it under 20,000 deaths in the UK.

Sobering times….

On a lighter note, the sun is shining and walks in the woods are fun 🙂

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Still all good in the hood!

 

Covid Isolation Week 4 Day 7 – the dangers of mixing drinking with House Party

So last night we joined the DJ gang on House party….they been getting together on a Saturday night since this whole thing started and after ducking a few invites I finally go around to installing the app. And it was a good laugh and a few hours quick flew by, as did a couple of bottles of wine. 

Which I think was the first mistake…

I’m not sure how we got on the the subject but I think someone mentioned hair-cuts. Now a few days before I’d joked about this being one of the few times you could shave your hair off with minimal impact on your life… well next thing I know Steph had trotted off to find the clippers.

So there I am, drunk, with Steph wanting to give me a buzz cut – in front of a rapturous audience waiting to see me crack and back out.

Now I’m fairly sure she thought I’d back down – certainly I thought she wouldn’t go through with it.

I didn’t…

Nor did Steph

The result was a stark lesson in finding out that as you get older you still do stupid stuff while drunk.

After about 20 minutes of having a Steph cut I got fed up with it being patchy – so took myself off to the bathroom to do a propper job. I struggled with the clippers as well and so I broke out the razor and took it all of – cursing Steph as I did.

The end result…

Alcohol – it’s not big and it’s not clever.

That said we’ve all had a good giggle about it today, after calming Isaac down about it. For a 7 year old it was quite a massive change to adjust to first thing in the morning – poor thing 🙂

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Stupid drunken tom-foolery: 1 

Covid-19: 0

 

Covid Isolation Week 4 Day 5 and a half? – 3am reflections

For the first time in a very long time I can’t sleep.

Often when I’ve had a few drinks (or more accurately more than a few) I wake up early – so maybe this is linked to too much alcohol and too early a night. Or maybe it’s more things on my mind…

This virus is taking its toll on people and getting ever closer in terms of people we know – i just pray that they find an effective treatment or vaccine soon. 

Prayer is a funny thing that I never quite believed the power of, and it’s easy to pass things off a co-incidence. But more co-incidences happen when I pray for them than when I’d just have a desire for something to happen.

I suppose part of the power of prayer is taking the time to reflect on what hasn’t gone right in the day, saying sorry and accepting that it’s ok not to get things right 100% of the time. That forgiveness is good for your mental health. The next part for me is linked to reflecting on the day and saying thank you for the good things in it. Those are easy things to take for granted and again its good for your mental health to reflect on what’s good in your life. Then finally it’s about looking forward and asking for help with things – which helps focus your mind on the important things in the future.

So my reflections tonight are more on that last part of prayer…asking

…and in that I ask that in this time of change and isolation I hope that people can reflect on the modern routine of life and take time to pause and in pausing feel the closeness of the holly spirit that is there for all of us. And for those battling the virus and battling for their lives I hope that they lift the cynicism of the modern view of God and reach out… and in reaching out find comfort and peace.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

All still good

Covid Isolation Week 4 Day 4 – Seagulls

I’m not sure if it’s related to the lock-down but there seems to be far more seagulls around.

Living in a city you tend to get more pigeons than gulls…and certainly I can’t recall ever really noticing the sound of gulls of a morning. After-all it is very distinctive and reminiscent of holidays. But the last few days have started with the streaks of gulls. Maybe it’s them moving further in-land due to fewer people heading to the coast. Certainly there have been stories of rats migrating away from closed fast food outlets and even goats reclaiming deserted streets.

So today has been another quiet one. 

I decided to take a few days off work before it gets crazy busy next week. Not that we can do anything – but I just feel my Monday to Friday has very little me time. This is mainly due to how we’re having to split up the day and look after Isaac:-

  • I get up early and try and get logged onto work for 7 to 7.30
  • Then I work through until 12:30…
  • Lunch and then I take over looking after Isaac
  • Take turns to have a shower and get dressed
  • 2 mile walk down to the nature reserve and along the canal, while doing maths (maths on the move)
  • 20 mins of reading and copying out a page of the book to practice his hand-writing
  • This normally takes us up until 3pm – so it’s free time for him (xbox/youtube) and back to work and a few emails for me
  • Around 5 I log off and we normally play a little minecraft
  • Then it’s dinner and the bedtime routine…getting him down around 8
  • Then we eat dinner normally watching some series (Ozarks or Better Call Saul at the moment)….which takes us up till around 10
  • ….and by that time I want to head to bed….

So not a lot of time just to pick up the usual projects.

But then I’m in a better situation than most….so I’m not complaining.

Other acheivement of today (before I forget) I helped Isaac build an Airfix Spitfire – took me right back to my childhood. Although I did most of the work – it was damned hard and fiddly.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Still all symptom free….yay!

Covid Isolation Week 4 Day 1 – Lockdown Blues

It’s been an odd Easter – odd times….same refrain.

Nothing much is happening in terms of the virus – the rate of increase looks to be flattening – so the peak is within sight. Or at least that’s the propaganda at the moment. The issue I don’t get is how we get out of this lock-down scenario without a vaccine being in place. It’s understandable that as the death rate lowers people will naturally think they’ve made it through – but the infection/death rate has will drop due to the lock-down impact. Relax that and the virus can spike again – similar to what the WHO is warning about. I suppose the country to watch would be China but their reporting seems a little too good on the numbers. The next one would be Italy – so we’ll see what this next few weeks holds in store.

The other complication in all this is the recent reports of re-infection in South Korea. Hopefully this is just down to some false test results as this could get very very bad if having the virus doesn’t give you some form of immunity to future inflections.

So in other news Easter came and went yesterday. It was a bit of a reflective day filled with too much food and chocolate (as to be expected). We’ve got into watching a film from our youth every Friday and extended it to Easter Sunday. Surprisingly the Easter film doesn’t seem to attract the same kudos as the Christmas film – so on this we had ‘Knocked Up’ which was just as funny as I remember.

Apart from lashings of chocolate Isaac had a few little gifts from the family – the current favourite being a cheap Meccano set. He was really good at it in fairness.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Stir crazy: 1

Covid-19: 0

Covid Isolation Week 3 Day 6 – something of a nothing day

It’s been an odd one today – more meh than anything…boredom is setting in.

But then I always find the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday a little…meh… It’s kind of not one thing or the other – a day of waiting more than anything. And given the current situation, there’s more focus on the waiting.

It was definitely a day of low motivation levels. The most I achieved being some exercise and getting my work-out routines changed around a bit.

I did play a good solid 3 hours of minecraft with Isaac – which he loved…but nothing productive.

The highlight of the day was probably Isaac beating both of us in Monopoly in just over an hour….he was so happy…

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Apart from a slight tight chest – all is still well…

Covid Isolation Week 3 Day 5 – the blackest Good Friday

Well today seems the bleakest Good Friday I think I’ve experienced.

Growing up and through most of my adult life this has been the start of a great weekend (usually) – no work, drinking, dancing, partying…life lived to the full spending the fruits of hard work on having a good time.

But over the years the meaning and significance of Good Friday has crept up on me.

I don’t normally talk about my faith but it seems apt today in the midst of this weird period we find ourselves in.

For me there has never been a crisis point that led me to faith – I’ve never hit rock bottom, never messed things up on such a scale that I had no where else to turn, or a plan to get things back on track. I didn’t come to believe out of desperation or  losing everything. For me it’s always kind of been there and as I’ve gotten older I see His hand more and more in life around me.

I have a comfortable life, one of contentment, close family, good friends and all my needs fulfilled. I can’t say I’ve always worked hard, the truth is that in the past I’ve always been able to do just enough to get by. That being said when needed I have worked hard to get things done and I’m especially good in a crisis – where a stoic practicality keeps me calm and focused. I often see solutions quicker than others.

There are many things that have shaped that – the whole nurture/nature debate. But as I get older I see more coincidences that join up and light a path to Jesus. People I’ve met, situations, opportunities – that could be passed off as simply that coincidence but when those coincidences stack up it makes it harder and harder to ignore.

This seems the start of a longer post about the events and people that have brought me to faith – which wasn’t my intention for this post…

Today it struck me that isolation is insulating us all from the harsh realities of how things are out there. We all watch the news and hear the statistics and talk of flattening peaks. But the reality is that for thousands of people across the country (millions across the world) this is the blackest/bleakest of a Friday with no goodness. They have lost love ones, or are maybe separated from friends and family, unable to reach out and offer comfort. Or maybe they are in hospital, worried, fearful unable to breath and scared about what happens next.

In those moments I pray they feel the presence of the Holly Spirit and take comfort in the knowledge that this is all temporary, there is a better place and entry is simply through belief.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may diehe shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die

How things get presented…

The reality for many across the world…

Drone pictures show bodies being buried on New York's Hart Island

This picture was taken in New York – 40 people buried in a mass grave in the leading Nation of the World.

Covid Isolation Week 3 Day 4 – Video editing on the fly

All those years in tech support is standing me in very good stead over this lockdown. As mentioned before everyone is getting to grips with technology and learning new skills and I’m in the fortunate position of being able to help. So the highlight of today as been helping Lynn get his recorded Maundy Thursday service saved off and across to me for editing. This is no mean feat given that he’s on a Mac using unfamiliar software and I’ve no way of seeing what he was doing. But we got there in the end and I managed to get the 1Gb file down to 40Mb for posting on FB and the site. 
I did miss a bit he wanted editing out but I’m sure he didn’t mind – it makes it more authentic 🙂

So Maundy Thursday – the last supper and the first communion.
Like many things at the moment it’s required adaption and instead of being around friends celebrating a Passover meal it was just me and Steph sat quietly listening to Lynn and sharing wine and bread. 
The pic below is what I shared to Instagram – which I think was lost on most people, thinking that it was the start of a night of drink rather than recognising the significance.

I also offered Isaac some bread and a taste of wine (dip his finger in) but no, he had the bread but told me off as little boys don’t like wine!

We all went out in the street to clap the front line staff at 8 – which felt a little odd actually seeing people we know and being able to interact after this strange solitary life. Once this lockdown is lifted I think life will go back to normality quite quickly but I hope that everyone remembers this time and is a little kinder and appreciative of the people around them. Modern life, as was, needs that injection of community.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Still all good…

Maundy Thursday

Central to today is Judas and his betrayal, and it’s one of those odd roles in the bible. On one hand he is vilified as a traitor, and on the surface his motivations seem financial given the 30 pieces of silver – which Lynn pointed out was less than the cost of a gored slave in those times. Maybe he didn’t see where his betrayal would lead – maybe there was a deeper motivation keeping on the right side of the Jewish elders…it’s one of those topics that has always interested me – why did he do it. There’s also the role of satan in all this:-

John 13:27 New International Version (NIV)
27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. 
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”

Was it satan’s work all along or was this just him making sure that Judas carried out what he had set in motion.

But then that leads to the role of satan in all of this and how that ultimately fits into His plan for us all.

Anyway…Harvey reminded me of one of my favourite Bill Bailey jokes…

Covid Isolation Week 3 Day 2 – Virtual visitors

Sometimes I hate WordPress – especially where there is a standard keyboard short-cut that has unintended consequences. In this case the fact that ctrl-Z seems to wiped out the whole post I’ve typed…. this is the third time tonight I’ve tried to write this 🙂

Anyway, the big news of the last few days has been Borris and his admittance to hospital, quickly followed by a move to ICU as a precaution. It’s proof, if any were needed, that power/money/privileged are no shield against the virus – I hope he recovers soon. And if he does then it will continue to build brand Borris, not only as a fighter leading by example but also as someone who will have the NHS intimately woven into his personal narrative. “You can trust me on the NHS….they saved my life in the country’s and my hour of need”.

So as everyone gets more familiar with life on lock-down, people are exploring the technological options for getting together. Zoom, face-time, skype, Whatsapp, House Party – the options seem endless. It reminds me of my first job in technical support as I become once again the friendly voice at the end of a phone who can help sort out computer issues.  It’s even more important this Holly Week as everyone tries to get ready for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

The highlight of today was a visit by Cristyn and the girls – from the safe distance of the pavement. The whole thing was overflowing with excited energy, screams, shrieks and the odd hurried reminder of ‘social distancing’. They enjoyed it all hugely and Steph finally got a distant look at little baby Alys. It must be hard for Cristyn having a newborn as well as the girls whilst not being able to easily tap into the usual support. Although in a crazy offer of help that sums up my family, my Mum picked up some ironing to help her out….ironing…in a lockdown where you’re not going out to see anyone?!?!? It’s probably why Cristyn always looks immaculate 🙂

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Still firing on all cylinders…

Philippians 2:5-11 New International Version (NIV)

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Covid Isolation Week 2 Day 7 – Palm Sunday

It’s been another quiet day – hardly any surprise there.

And rather than the usual Palm Sunday routine it’s been a day of chilling and catching up on a few internet projects.

Finally finally finally I worked out the issue with the front page of this site.
When ever I was changing the ‘page’ it stubbornly remained exactly the same. I spent ages looking at caching issues and even thought it might be an ISP issue to help lower internet traffic…. but Occam’s razor – it was me not remembering how I’d configured the template. That took a good few hours running through all the possibilities – and to help my memory in the future I’ve added it as a note to the home page in the edit suite. I’m bound to forget again.

The other success of the weekend has been setting up Skype on the TV – now we don’t have to all huddle around a phone or laptop.

So Palm Sunday always feels a strange start to holly week – Jesus riding into Jerusalem with rejoicing crowds celebrating his triumphal arrival. From the Old Testament, Zechariah described how the King of the Jews would come onto the scene as the triumphant, victorious leader.

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9

The crowds didn’t get the Messiah and Saviour they were expecting – he had bigger plans than just delivering his people from the Romans.

In Roman athletic competitions, the winners were awarded palm branches as a symbol of strength. And maybe the crowds were looking for him to be a strong warrior King – not the King of Peace. Certainly now Palm branches typically symbolise in Christianity the victory of the faithful over enemies of the soul. 

I remember a sermon last year where the Pastor explained that one theory on the waiving of Palm branches was more to do with an early Israelite Victory when they crossed the river Jordan into the promised land, rather than it being around the time of Sukkoth.

I need to track more on this down…

 

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Apart from the regular hang overs we’re all good…

Covid Isolation Week 2 Day 6 – finally feels like spring

The sun is shining, birds singing over the faint hum of far off lawn mowers – it really feels like the start of spring today. But everyone is stuck in-doors unable to do all the normal social activities.

So today’s surprise has been reports of a number of 5G masts getting attacked and set on fire:-

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/apr/04/uk-phone-masts-attacked-amid-5g-coronavirus-conspiracy-theory

This has been driven by 2 nonsense theories that either 5G suppresses the immune system or that it is being used by the virus to target people! 

It’s amazing, almost astounding, what people will believe… and believe so strongly that they would go out and take direct action. However, if you did believe in conspiracy over cock-up this virus is perfect cover to implement some draconian controls on wider society. If you needed everyone off the streets to be able to do something clandestine then what better cover than a pandemic. Which could even extend to us all having to have a Covid-19 app on our phones to track who we’re interacting with – to trace any future outbreak. The tin-foil had brigade would have a field day with that I’m sure.

Anyway – as it’s so nice we’re all off out for a longish walk – you never know when it might rain.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Still all ok…

 

Covid Isolation Week 2 Day 5 – 1 degree of separation

It’s creeping ever closer.

Today was the first day where people we know have started to lose loved ones… getting ever closer.
The preparations ramp up…millennium stadium converted to a hospital…2000 beds! That’s not planning for a few hundred deaths.
We’re getting to the really difficult part… as we all knew it would.

But I think the hardest bit will be when the infection rate and fatality rate starts to tail off. This has always struck me as the kind of infection that will have a double peak. People’s behaviour and desire to get out of lockdown will mean they take chances too soon. The hope is that by then we have some effective tests for carrying the antibodies.

But but but… it stuck me earlier today that this is the third Corona virus epidemic – SARS, MERS, SARS-2 (Covid-19). And the fatality rate has stepped up each time. So the real scary part is what’s next?

Statistically we have been overdue a pandemic for sometime – but it seems odd that the same family of viruses seem to be causing increasingly ferocious diseases. Is this a factor of the modern world or just nature as nature is…   

Covid-19 Symptom Check

All good in the hood 🙂

 

Covid Isolation Week 2 Day 3 – AA

There are more and more events getting cancelled further and further ahead – today’s latest casualty being the Edinburgh Fringe in August. It’s one of those events I’ve always fancied going to but never have gotten around to. I’m loathed to write a list of things I want to see when reality returns – but it’s tempting. For me lists like that either speak to dissatisfaction in your own life or they make a slave of your future self. I kind of started one with Isaac when he was very young – and stopped fairly soon as it just seemed I was trying to find cool things to do for the list – instead of focusing on him having a ‘cool’ life more generally. 

Anyway if they’re now cancelling events in August it looks like the Greenman festival won’t be far behind it. Which along with Glastonbury and the now annual trip to CentreParcs means all my holiday plans are no more… Which again (a frequent phase in these times) is all a bit surreal. I can’t remember ever not having some trip on the horizon to look forward to…and it’s hard to make definite plans with an indefinite lock down. We’re all assuming that after a few months of this it’ll be back to normal… but will it?

The government are already floating 6 months for how long disruption to life might last. Vaccines probably won’t be available for the general population until 2021. These are short term measures.

And what impact does that have on us, out culture, our ways of doing things?

On a call in work today they were discussing the mass mobilisation of home working – 1300+ people now distributed across the country all logging in remotely. And it struck me – what happens after 6 months of home working, why would you pull people back into offices. Could businesses realise considerable savings by having the majority of their staff home based and having fewer far smaller offices. How will that change the corporate culture, how will that change the social role that work plays for a lot of people – does it exacerbate the creeping disease of loneliness?

Interesting times and whatever happens I think the world we step out into after all this will be very different.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

So far so good – all fully fit…well apart from a couple of hangovers

Covid Isolation Week 1 Day 7 – Quiet Sunday

Life continues on…

This weekend has reminded me of weekends from my childhood where my parents would decide that they needed to get things sorted in the house and so that’s what happened. My parents would get engrossed in chores of various descriptions leaving me and my sister to entertain ourselves.

It led to the type of boredom that fuelled creativity after a lot of sitting around watching TV. Which makes me wonder if this imposed seclusion will lead to Isaac having more appreciation for things like school and the great outdoors. Probably not – but there is always hope.

I’m hoping that the week to come establishes more of a regular pattern for him and that it helps settle his mood. It’s been such a drastic change to everyone’s lives and at the age of 7 I think he struggles to comprehend what it all means. He had bad dreams last night which he refused to talk about – and given the increasing levels of frustration (brought on by not seeing anyone other than his parents) I’m worried how he will cope with another 11 weeks of this. But we’re continuing to talk to him and give him the time and space to discuss things on his mind…. fingers crossed this helps… it all feels a little bit like being in uncharted territory.

However, video calling has been a life saver along with letting him play Roblox online with Will… socialising in a way I suppose. Maybe this is the step change in society that make video calling mainstream.

Highlight of today – going for a long walk through the woods….with a few tricky moments where the rules of social distancing needed some thought as we encountered people on the paths…

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Everyone seems fit and healthy…no fever and no coughs today.
Although Steph was suffering with a sore throat yesterday and a headache – potentially linked to too much wine Friday night.

Covid Isolation Week 1 Day 5 – circadian rhythms

Today has been a tough one – and not just for us. From reading various social media channels it’s been the end of a tough old week, and lot’s of people have struggled. Juggling work and childcare…worrying where the next toilet roll is coming from, as well as the inevitable lecturing of parents who don’t seem to get the principal of isolation. It even stopped Isaac’s face-time call with one of his friends who had to go to bed early due to behaviour – Isaac had came close through the day as well.

New things today – restrictions on how many people are allowed into supermarkets at once, as well as enforced distancing while you wait to go in! Also social media is filling up with more videos of people who have caught the disease – and we’re not yet at the peak.

But, touch wood, we’re all doing good – apart from the cabin fever.

Still the biggest worry is one of the older generation of the family getting it, and although they are staying (for the most part) isolation isn’t something they’re getting as a concept. Popping to a shop if absolutely needed is ok….but popping to 5 shops and the bank is rolling those dice too many times. It’s also odd that, despite being all over 70 (Ken is 80+?), none of them have received a letter from the local NHS…maybe it’s different in Wales to how the media is portraying things. In any case the stern advice from us is to keep inside, keep safe, let us ferry food if the online deliveries aren’t an option.

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Isaac’s cold is no more – hoora!
Steph had a sore throat this morning (snoring maybe?)
…as for me I think my hay-fever has started…which the hypochondriac in me insists is Corona – but no temp 🙂 

Isaac’s random questions

To pass the time my cousin posed some questions for the kids on Facebook…here are Isaac’s answers:-

1. If you won a million pounds, what would you buy?
Isaac – a house and an iPhone

2. How long does it take to get to America?
Isaac – 2 hours

3. What does mum always say to you?
Isaac – go for a shower (Mum)… Do this do that (Dad)

4. What job would you like to do when you’re big?
ISAAC – fireman

5. What is the capital of England?
Isaac – London

6. Where do babies come from?
Isaac – mummy’s tummy simple

7. At what age do you become an adult?
Isaac – 20 (no longer a teenager)

8. If you could change one rule your family has, what would it be?
Isaac – going to school

9. If you could be a superhero, what superpower would you have?
Isaac – invisabliliy, speed, flight

10. What would you do to save the planet?
Isaac – recycle and fair trade

11. If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Isaac – Chocolate!

12. How much does it cost to buy a house?
Isaac – £100

13. Why do you think we should be nice to other people?
Isaac – so it will be a peaceful planet

14. What does love mean to you?
Isaac – someone cares for you and is always on your side and protect you

15. What are you scared of?
Isaac – pennywise and Corona virus

16. What is so important?
Isaac – mum, dad, school, family, friends

Covid Isolation Week 1 Day 4 – Quiet times

It’s amazing how quiet things are getting.

During the day there are still cars around and people going for walks but at night it gets eerily quiet – no one out driving to those social events or running errands. 

One thing I’ve noticed today is far more sirens – generally far off. Maybe it’s just because there’s less traffic generally so less of the normal city sounds but 3-4 times today I noticed sirens of ambulances or police cars… I pray who ever is in need to the sirens is ok – which again might be a factor in me noticing more.  

So the new routine continues…the new norm…
Get-up, Tea, sometimes breakfast, log on, work, calls, work, more calls, make tea, lunch, catch-up, hand over, shower (I know late), walk, maths, reading, science, snack, log back on, more calls, emails, apologies, tea, work-out, bed time, dinner, TV, bed…rinse repeat.

Its harder on Isaac I think. The initial joy at not having to go to school is slowly giving way to boredom, which isn’t helped by him being an only child. But we’re trying to keep him occupied and the school have been great at setting him things to do – he’s even started a diary.

It also struck me today how I’m slowly losing track of what day it is…without those typical, familiar queues it all just becomes another day… We’re not even through week 1 and I’m sure life will get more and more surreal…

In other events, I saw my mum today when she dropped off some cardboard for Isaac to build a castle from. Oh and some random flapjacks that she made to free up space in her kitchen. Think we’ll tackle the model building on the weekend (the flapjacks didn’t last a day). I’m trying to get him to build a model of Caldicot Castle but he has his heart set on Castle Coch – because red is his fave colour. 

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Apart from the tail end of Isaac’s cold we’re all ok 🙂

 

Covid-19

There’s only been a few times when I felt I was living through history – Berlin Wall coming down, 911, 711… And the difference with all of those big events was I was always an observer, not caught up in them directly. 

This one is very different as it’s touching everyone with no part of the world not being impacted in some way shape or form.

So we’ve been in lock-down for about a week, with my boy (Isaac) being off school from Thursday, and so far it’s all been ok. It’s taken a bit of getting used to with replicating the school routine and it’s odd having to consciously put thought into shopping and food. It’s also struck me as slightly strange how people react and get into panic buying, which as a behaviour pattern always strikes me at Christmas (when the shops are only closed for 2 days).

Anyway I’ve kind of promised to myself to keep some notes through this period on how we’re coping – to document our part of it all.