The last week of… something (28.2021)

This was the last week of Covid restrictions in England. Or most restrictions at least. From Monday 19th (referred to by the stupid as “Freedom Day”) nightclubs and sports stadia and concert venues can open at full capacity; scanning a barcode for track-and-trace is no longer required; social distancing and one-way systems are no longer necessary; wearing a mask is no longer compulsory (although it has been recommended for travel on London Transport by London’s Mayor) and table service is no longer required in pubs/bars/cafes (but at least one local pub is asking their staff to keep wearing masks and asking their patrons to do so when approaching the bar). So life will return to “normal” except for all the things that are not “normal”. Like all those screens in shops to protect the staff, will they remain? As I noted last week on my visit to the optometrist, why didn’t we always try to protect people in high-contact occupations?

On Monday I woke up with a sore throat. I must have been more emotionally and vocally engaged with the England-Italy game than I thought, as my throat was sore from the shouting I hadn’t realised I had done. That made it a good day to drink lots of soothing tea. (I’d forgotten how nice the Loyd Manuka Honey, Cranberry and Ginger tea was!) And it was also a good day to think about ordering some lateral flow tests for home because I realise I was in a crowded space with lots of people shouting and not wearing masks. Yes, I’m vaccinated but still…

On Tuesday I went to the cinema (again). Yes, cinemas are open again and so before we enter into “freedom zone” (eye roll) we went to see Black Widow. Husband and I wore our masks. I’d say 50% of the 30 or so people who were in the cinema took their masks off once they were inside and the film started which pissed me off but they were all sat a long way behind me. The film was good – it’s a Marvel movie, so lots of action – but also some funny scenes around family. Marvel scripting is really sharp – I’m sure they put a lot of thought into what two sisters would talk about if they hadn’t seen each other for 15 years.

Wednesday at work there was an email error. You know the thing where someone copies the wrong mailing list on a message that’s not relevant for them, and instead of deleting a message that’s not relevant for them (like I did), many people decide to ‘reply all’ with a “please take me off this list” message. There were over 50 such messages within a few minutes, getting up to over 100 within an hour. And in between there were a few messages of the “please don’t copy everyone” variety (which no-one read because the “please take me off this list” messages continued) (even into the next day). Apparently that one mistaken copy led to 250,000 unnecessary emails.

Thursday was another comedy night. It’s the ‘back in the saddle” season at the local club as comedians who haven’t worked for a year are starting to go out and test some new material. Surprisingly the headline act didn’t seem to have written punchlines to his jokes but I think the audience were quite supportive regardless. We have decided to combine comedy nights with dinner at the new ramen place, for one, because ramen is tasty, and for two, because ramen is quick. And Husband is paranoid about being late. Which is great fun for me, because as soon as I see him getting paranoid about the time, I start to slow down, which infuriates him. Am I mean for doing this?

On Friday I had a negative lateral flow test result. My tests arrived in the post on Thursday afternoon so I did my first lateral flow Covid test. I didn’t experience a gag reflex swabbing at my throat (maybe I’m doing that wrong) but sticking the swab up my nose is really unpleasant and brings tears to my eyes. But it was a negative result. My friend who I watched the England game with had two positive lateral flow tests but her PCR test (the official one processed in a laboratory by science people) came back negative. (She hasn’t been vaccinated.)

On Saturday we hosted a barbecue. Our first social barbeque of the year with three guests. The plan was to use up the last of the gas in the gas bottle that fuels the barbeque (we’ve had this bottle for how many years now?) but we didn’t even managed that. We cooked mushroom/pepper skewers, halloumi cheese, harissa basted aubergine (eggplant), sausages and lamb chops. And when I say we I mean me, I do the cooking. And for once the lamb chops were perfectly cooked. Normally I cook them to a crunchy state of charcoal but this time they were perfect.

Sunday – the hottest day of the year! A good day to spend in the shade, reading. The temperature today was supposed to get to 31C (85+ in F). I had a book to finish for book club on Wednesday so I dedicated myself to finishing that. I was sat down so long my butt got sore. It helped that we had plenty of leftovers from dinner on Friday and the barbeque so we didn’t need to cook.

In the evening we did some planning for our Madeira trip which we are cautiously starting to get excited about. We don’t want to get our hopes up too high but we are starting to make lists – hikes we want to do, beaches we I want to visit, things to see, places to eat, cable cars to travel on… We’ve had three trips cancelled due to Covid so far, so I don’t want to be too invested in this trip, but I can say I’m cautiously optimistic it will go ahead. So much so I’ve bought a bikini. Two, in fact.

I’ve decided that (a) life is too short to be hung up on not wearing a bikini (b) when I was in Rio years ago, there were women whose body shapes were wider and rounder than mine and they were wearing bikinis so maybe there’s a similar vibe in Madeira, as both countries are Portuguese-speaking (c) hiking is all very well but I also want some beach time so I feel like I’m on holiday (d) I found a website where swimsuits were on sale and (e) I now have a date for the Ben Nevis hike so I should be focussed on getting my fitness level up and hopefully I will be my fittest self in some years while we’re in Madeira so all the more reason to sun my belly in a bikini.

I’ve got around 10 weeks to prepare for the Ben Nevis hike and that will mean a combination of running, walking, swimming (yes, I’m determined to go to the pool once a week, or maybe once every two weeks) pilates, yoga and hula hooping. I’ve started well today (I have the day off) with an hour and a half of gardening followed by half an hour of sitting and writing this blog. It’s another hot day today – I booked leave because whenever I have gone away for a few days in the past year, the weather has turned cold or at least cooler. Today I wanted to enjoy the hot weather at home. Probably another afternoon in the shade with another book to finish – I can see the three books I am part way through sitting on the table, sending me reproachful looks: Moby Dick, Where the Crawdads Sing, and Checkpoint Charlie. And then maybe once it gets cooler and the shade comes over I’ll do some more gardening, that’s if the proposed thunderstorm doesn’t eventuate.

Here’s wishing you something to be cautiously optimistic about this week.

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