Humanity Rises

I feel compelled to say, probably for the millionth time in the last two weeks, what a weird, crazy time we’re living through.

I know you all know that already (unless you’ve just returned from a three month sojourn to Mars) but I just feel the need to acknowledge how odd it all is. It’s as akin to war time as I ever want to get.

As I stepped out of the door this lunchtime to go for my daily allowance of exercise, a big, grey, unmarked plane went over.

I didn’t quite manage to get my phone out quickly enough to get a closer photo, but it had four engines and wasn’t a jumbo and didn’t look quite big enough to be an A380 so I think it was an A340 and I’m pretty sure it was a military plane. The only regular four engined plane that goes into Birmingham airport is the twice daily Emirates A380 from Dubai, and it wasn’t that. The Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham is regularly used for wounded soldiers coming back from their postings abroad, so we do occasionally see military planes. I wondered whether they’re flying back military personnel who may have succumbed to corona virus, or whether they’re flying home troops to back up the army here who are already on stand-by, should they be needed, or, could they be repatriating people who’ve been stranded abroad? Whatever the reason, seeing that made me feel even more like we’re living in war time, although I’m obviously very grateful not to have the Blitz going on around us.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised and had my faith in humanity restored over the past few days, not least by the rousing applause that echoed up and down our street this evening at 8pm as most households stood on their doorsteps to clap, whoop and generally show their appreciation for all the NHS staff who are so bravely and resolutely continuing with their roles in order to beat this foe and keep our country safe.

My hubby works for the NHS. He’s not on the front line, but he is working hard to keep that front line going, as well as all the patients, corona virus related or not!

This is now his essential work equipment.

I also have a very good friend who is a physio who is being redeployed during this crisis to wherever needs her most, and a cousin who I assume is in the same boat, although I haven’t spoken to him.

I have friends and family who are teachers who are risking their health to look after the children of key workers so that they can continue doing their fantastic work to keep the country safe and functioning.

I have friends who are part of the half a million who have offered to volunteer for the NHS to get us through this crisis. I always thought that, these days, we weren’t made of as good stuff as all those brave men and women who voluntarily signed up to fight for and work for our country back in the last century when our security and safety was threatened, but I’m proud and humbled to find that, although this isn’t a war, there are people, in their hundreds of thousands, who are selfless and compassionate enough to put themselves out there for the benefit of society.

For all these people that I know, and all the others that I don’t know who are keeping us going, I applauded you earlier, and I applaud you again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Social media gets a really bad write up sometimes, and it isn’t always a good thing, but throughout this crisis so far, it’s played a big part in keeping me sane. Without my WhatsApp groups, Facebook and Instagram, I would be feeling a whole load more isolated than I do. Sitting in our spare room staring at a laptop in front of a wall all day, when my phone vibrates with a message from a work colleague or friend or family member, it lifts my spirits to know that someone’s thinking of me and that I’m not alone.

Of course, also reminding me that I’m not alone are two furry things who are delighted to have company 24/7 at the moment.

Excuse the lack of make up! There’s really no point – I’ll have beautiful skin when all this is over!

They provide their own particular challenges, or Tinkerbell does anyway.

Yesterday I was on the phone to my health insurance (bad back – thanks for asking!) when Tinkerbell decided to sit on my laptop and somehow managed to make the laptop read out the email that was open in a voice a la C3P0, much to the amusement of the lady on the other end of the phone! I didn’t even know my laptop could do that! I still don’t know how it does it other than via feline bottom!

Today said feline walked across the keyboard and managed to turn it into a French keyboard! This, thanks to Google, I do now know how to fix – luckily it understood ‘how do I fiy mx kexboard’ or something to that effect!

Anyway, my browsing of social media has, again, thrown up lots of corona virus memes which have amused me. Now, before anyone shoots me, I know that this is not a laughing matter, but I do think a bit of light relief is essential for us all to get through this and come out the other side with our sanity. So, here you go, my pick of the best to finish with.

And the best of all ….

Day One in the Home Office

Well, what a surreal situation we find ourselves in. Completely unprecedented. A little over three months ago, few of us had heard of Corona Virus and the term COVID-19 hadn’t even been coined, yet now it’s all we can talk about!

Yesterday I was told that everyone in my office would be working from home as of today, end date unknown! It felt quite emotional as people started to leave at the close of play, almost like I was never going to see them again. It’s also quite disconcerting leaving somewhere not knowing when you’ll be back. I couldn’t take everything, but I needed to make sure I took everything I could possibly need to do my job for however long this lasts.

This was me leaving! I couldn’t decide whether it felt like Christmas or like I’d been given my P45!

My desk plants are succulents so need minimal watering, but they do need a drink every couple of weeks, and this will most likely last longer than that, so they had to come home with me. The one on the right is highly poisonous to cats so that’s had to go on a high up shelf for the fur babies’ safety. The money plant has joined it up there for its own safety given that Tinkerbell has a penchant for chewing plants!

I’ve brought my mouse and headphones home, but not my keyboard, and after a day of home working today, I think that may have been an error. The problem is though, I don’t have enough USB slots! I may have to arrange to pop into the office to get my docking station. I’ve even brought my chair home because, if this ends up being months of working at home, my back will not take sitting on a hard wooden chair.

This morning I took advantage of being home and having access to an oven to make banana pancakes for breakfast so I could save my healthy extra B for lunchtime.

Yummy! A great start to the day.

This was me all set up and ready. I’ve never been able to hang my headphones on the hoover before!

My new colleagues were furrier than the usual lot!

All things considered, it wasn’t too bad an experience, but I may feel differently in a couple of weeks when I’m going stir crazy. I managed to get most of the systems that I need to function, and managed to motivate myself to get things done. The fact that I’ve only been in the job a few weeks will work for me and against me. It’s hard because I don’t know the job very well yet and now I’m having to do what I can on my own, albeit with remote support. Incidentally, the main reason I moved jobs was because I felt isolated and now look what’s happened! Can’t be helped though. There are definitely positives too. I’m going to have time now to go over some of the processes and make notes to really learn the job. We don’t have any choice about any of this, so we’ll all just have to make the most of it.

Speaking of making the most of it, I’ve been very amused today by various memes and jokes doing the rounds, and I thought I’d share the best of them with you.

I think we’ve seen some of the worst of human nature over the last few days – I’ve heard of toilet roll being snatched out of a child’s hands, supermarket staff being abused and,possibly worst of all, unscrupulous people offering to help out vulnerable people while they’re social distancing and then ripping them off.

There have also been many examples of positive behaviour, for example leaflets being posted through doors offering genuine help if needed and dog walking companies slashing their prices for those in self isolation. What struck me about all these memes, was that even in this worrying situation, we’re retaining out sense of humour. Clearly, given the state of the supermarkets and pharmacies, we’re not all keeping calm and carrying on, but these little funnies give me hope that we will.

For my part, I plan on continuing with life as normally (and sensibly) as possible, whilst washing my hands multiple times a day (all the while singing happy birthday to myself twice!) and I plan to make the most of the extra time I have at home because of my new thirty second commute and evenings and weekends in. Tonight I took part in an online quiz run on Facebook by Hashtag quizzes which was fun. It’s running every night at 8.30 on their Facebook page if anyone fancies it. I’ve written a list of all the things I can do to occupy myself. There’s blogging, gardening, crocheting, knitting, cross stitching, mosaic art, colouring, reading my Kindle, reading magazines (which I’ve stocked up on), stripping woodchip, jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles, Les Mills on demand, walking (whilst keeping two metres distance from anyone) and, of course, Netflix. It will be fine for the vast majority of us.

On that note, I’m off to watch episode three of The Stranger. Keep safe folks and I’ll see you on the other side!

Christmas has started

Hopefully just about time for a quick blog post whilst my blueberry, coconut and sultana baked oats are baking. There are six oaty muffins baking and I have two at a time for breakfast so that’s enough for my whole working week. Yep, I break up for Christmas on Wednesday! Woohoo for three day weeks.

So why, you ask, is this post entitled Christmas has started if I haven’t broken up yet? Well it’s because I’ve been in Surrey this weekend for the annual Christmas pressie swap with my Granny and my Mum. I don’t get to see them very often because there’s nearly a hundred and fifty miles between us so when I do get down there it’s always special. I listen to Christmas songs on the radio all the way there and back and it always makes me smile if Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas comes on because, whichever direction I’m going in, it feels like I am driving home for Christmas.

Granny’s had a rough couple of years! I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that she’s eighty eight but almost exactly two years ago she had a heart bypass and recovered from it quicker and with more aplomb than someone half her age would’ve done, and this year she’s had various medical issues and a couple of stays in hospital, the latest being just a couple of weeks ago when she lost a pint of blood after knocking a scab off which happened to be on an artery (her bedroom and hallway currently look like a scene out of a horror film!) Anyway, she’s bounced back from it all but it makes it all the more important to spend time with her. My hubby calls her Super Gran. She really is amazing!

Despite all of this, she’d still taken the trouble to get all my favourite things in to feed me! You wouldn’t believe how excited I was to see these sitting on top of the fridge when I arrived!

I LOVE crumpets! Especially Warburtons and I hadn’t had them since May when I started Slimming World! Of course, I could’ve rung her before I went and said I’d bring baked oats instead, but somehow, it completely slipped my mind to do so!

Ooooooh! What a treat! Hot toasted crumpets with Flora Buttery and, you either love it or hate it, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Marmite!

I devoured my crumpets whilst Granny popped to the shop to get her paper (a kind gentleman paid for it for her – Granny has an admirer (in my head at least!)) and while we were waiting for my Mum to arrive. Much excitement – hadn’t seen her since last Christmas!

Mum brought with her Christmas presents, a knitting stitch holder because I’d forgotten mine and news of my Great Aunt who’s unfortunately suffering from fairly advanced dementia. Mum initially moved away from Birmingham to help my Great Aunt when she was in the early stages of the disease but she’s now ably cared for in a home.

A home which apparently also caters for donkeys! She doesn’t look overly impressed, does she!

We had a lovely day together just chatting and catching up. Granny’s still catching up on sleep after losing all that blood and didn’t feel up to Scrabble so Mum and I had a game. My Mum is the Gyles Brandreth of Scrabble (or Suzy Dent for the younger amongst you) but somehow I managed to be winning, right up, that is, until she went and got ninety something points for one word! Honestly, I ask you! How does she do it? Anyway, she ended on something like three hundred and twenty nine and I managed two hundred and ninetyish so I don’t feel too beaten up.

I headed back up the M40 after the tea of kings! Granny’s Shepherd’s Pie! It deserves to be capitalised because it’s soooooo good! She makes it the day before and reheats it when needed. It’s some concoction of lamb mince, celery, carrot, onion salt and vegetable stock topped with potato, but believe me, even with the correct ingredients it is impossible to make it as well without the Granny magic!

It tastes a-ma-zing! Sets you right up for the rest of the day.

Today I’ve had a relatively lazy day chilling out with hubby and the gorgeous twosome …

… but, and I think I deserve a round of applause for this, I did go out in the garden, in the bucketing down rain, to harvest the remainder of my produce.

Now, if we can all just imagine that I intended to grow baby potatoes and baby leeks, then it will have all been worth it!

These are Musselburgh leeks which, according to the internet, should be ‘whoopers’ and reliable and easy to grow. Hmmmm! I sowed them in about April and this is what I got! They look like spring onions. I assure you they’re not! Oh well, they’ll be fine chopped up in a stir fry.

The potatoes are Charlottes and I planted them in bags about the end of September time. They were advertised as ready for Christmas, which I suppose they are, but I was rather hoping they’d be big enough for our roasties. They’re not!

They sprouted masses of leaves to start off with. This is how they looked halfway through November …

… but I noticed last week that all the foliage had died down so I thought I’d best check if any potatoes had actually grown.

Anyway, my baked oats are cooked and cooling …

… so I’m off to get some beauty sleep ready for my last three working days of 2019. Nighty night.