Blog 147 – 16.4.23. Apologies for the late arrival of Covid-19

It’s just over 3 years since Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdowns gripped the UK. And it has finally caught me. I had to miss my old boss’s birthday party when I took a lateral flow test after developing a mild sore throat…

We’re all quite blase now, and maybe rightly so…getting on with our lives and accepting the covid risk. I’m writing from the confines of my bedroom as I isolate myself to try and protect my clinically vulnerable husband.

This covid blip has reminded me to be grateful that I didn’t catch it when it was far more virulent; my immune system has likely been significantly bolstered by the 3 vaccines I’ve had (I decided not to have any more as I really don’t like taking medicines/drugs); it also reminded me that I think we went into a kind of ‘war time’ mode over the first 2 years – people helping each other and husband and I (and eventually other volunteers) making and selling face masks for a local dementia charity; making friends with a local boutique so they could sell our masks when the charity’s cafe was not open. I don’t miss lockdown, but I think I saw more of my local friends in their gardens then, than I do now!

If I didn’t have a test kit, there’s no doubt I would have passed this off as a regular cold. Which reminds me, we have never managed to obliterate any cold or flu virus…they just change slightly and re-infect our (now primed) immune systems…and there will probably come a time when saying you have covid will cause no more shuddering than complaining about a runny nose.

Trusting and naturally bolstering our immune systems has to be the way. I have no answers and no scientific studies to prove that unnatural, highly processed foods, packaged in water-polluting plastics means the pollutants are building themselves into our bodies and interfering with the effectiveness of our immune systems. If we let them. Gene-edited (GE) food will now be streaming into the UK now that we are outside of the protection of the EU. My ‘science is God’ brother-in-law thinks this is marvellous – as it simply speeds up the selective breeding process that mankind has done for thousands of years…and he says many more people could be fed. Can’t say I trust it myself…follow the money…many of the larger organisations producing our food are not interested in our health. In any case I’m pretty sure there is enough food…it’s just not well distributed and much first-world food goes to waste.

Whilst serving in the cafe a few days ago, 2 young lads (aged 10?) came up to the counter and asked if the organic cans of fizzy lemonade they wanted contained alcohol. I asked if they wanted something with alcohol in it?… because unfortunately we don’t sell alcoholic drinks and in any case, we couldn’t serve them to under-18s. They then went on to deliberate the healthiness of some of the snacks we had on offer before making their selection. Quite a few of the younger folk I know are mending(!) their clothes or buying them from charity shops. I’m hopeful of a developing groundswell of people saying no, making good choices and taking control of their own health and theirs and the planet’s well being (one and the same thing).

Check this 10 minute TED talk where a guerilla gardener takes control of his s**t…I mean food:


Posted in Coronavirus/Covid-19/pandemic, Everyday Life in London, Gratitude, Health, Uncategorized, young people | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 146 12.9.22: A new…King…

Prior to the Queen’s demise, we mostly referred to kings in the context of wars, empires, adulterous relationships, divorces, beheadings and such other kingly matters. So a king, today, seems utterly removed from modern life. ‘King’ just sounds…wrong…even if it is treasonous to say so.

The reigns of our queens seem to have a somewhat different flavour…not all perfect, or tranquil, or peaceful or even uneventful, by any means; just not so…bullish I guess; not so egotistical. Certainly compared to Liz II. (Apologies to anyone who finds talk of Kings and Queens antiquated…totally understand).

Our national anthem, which (I think, weirdly) places emphasis on the monarch, has had to be amended – ‘God save our gracious King…..’Send him victorious’ etc. It’s strange to sing. But maybe this emphasis is not so weird…maybe the monarch is so entwined with the state that this is a prayer or anthem for the continuation of the state as embodied by the monarch, and therefore continuation of ourselves/our country. I wonder what the feeling would be if some other long-lived monarch or head of state were to die…what would that feel like, to the citizens? It’s not like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela dying – the Queen was not any kind of hero. I think it sort of feels familial in some way. Can’t quite explain it. But a lot of people do feel a personal loss.

It is evident that, although there is a fair amount of indifference to the Queen’s death, folk of all ages have been deeply affected – which has really surprised me. The younger members of the population (as the rest of us), are disturbed/discombobulated by the effects of Brexit, the pandemic, climate change, Mr. Putin… and now the disappearance of the one steady anchor point for the UK…the Queen. But, nothing stays the same, even if they stay the same for a long time. Long marriages end (however they may end), people pass on, old buildings are demolished, empires collapse, dictators die. Yesterday the handle came off my well-cared for, 30 year old stainless steel saucepan. The law of entropy says that things will tend towards disorganisation and break down, and evolve…into the next thing. A transformational energy. So this is a time of transition for us. The new King has a lot to live up to, and I wish him luck. Long live the King. And to the youngsters…know that things always change (they always have done), events will keep happening and you’re best to keep rooted (in your faith if you have one) and that in any case, all will be well…we always find a way.


Flowers laid at the base of a tree in St. James’ Park, next to the palace.
Posted in Change, Changing World, Difficult times, Great Britain, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 145 – 8.9.22: Goodbye Marm.

The Queen is no more. I don’t know what to say. This is not a day I was expecting to have to deal with somehow…we have denied reality for some time and just expected her to go on and on. Strange to now have to refer to ‘the King’. 

There will be no further queen for at least 100 years, as 3 kings will follow (all things being equal). The loss of the Queen is a massive jolt. Not unexpected, but a jolt. Am I a royalist? I don’t know. I guess I don’t much like change. But I cannot escape the sheer anachronism of monarchy. Especially the British monarchy, where our entire systems are inextricably entwined with the institution of monarchy. It makes no sense in this day and age. But I have to tell you that I felt a strong sense of relief that the Queen’s successor is instantly installed at the moment of her death. There is, for me, an unexpected comfort in that continuity…as though, if that did not happen, we would fall into some sort of de-stabling void. Not that things will not change…they most certainly will. 

A head of state, I guess, is the face of a country. If your president or king is murderous, duplicitous, inciteful, full of hubris and greedy, then these characteristics may well be attributed to the very country being ruled by that head of state..more especially if their reign/time in office is long. Elizabeth II may have given us a traditional, stable, somewhat old-fashioned and benign face to the world…but I’ll take that image, especially if the choice is some of the presidencies we’ve seen elsewhere.

In fact, I’m often a little rattled when commentators in the UK refer to ‘the president’. They mean, of course, the President of the United States…but sound like they’re talking about a president of the UK. I guess it is a mark of honour to her that, to the world, there was only one ‘Queen’. 

She, to me, was a reassuring background presence. Her passing highlights the fact that I’m coming to a time when there may soon be more passings, if the nonagenarians around me take their leave too.


Photo by Roman Kaiukud83cuddfaud83cudde6 on
Posted in Change, Changing World, Difficult times, Great Britain, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 144 – 6.11.21. Blah blah blah…a crustie’s (?) manifesto

Don’t march. Don’t protest. Don’t expect your government to do anything. They might do something…but they might not. Blah blah blah. Do it without them. Insulate your home to the extent that you are able. Turn your heating down 1 degree. Wear a cardigan. Repair your clothes. Buy secondhand. Don’t go vegan, but eat more vegan. Don’t recycle: re-use…or don’t buy in the first place – recycling is a very last resort. Drive electric…or use public transport..or walk. Buy unpackaged/refillable goods. Buy more local. You can do it. If you are too busy to take some steps to reduce your CO2 production because you live a stressful, busy life involving the school run in an SUV, disposable nappies, the sheer instantaneous of Amazon prime and 3 airborne holidays a year…stop. Stop it….your children will thank you when you…S..L..O..W….D..O..W..N…consume less, and leave them an inhabitable planet. Isn’t China lighting up coal-fired power stations so it can obligingly produce goods we are demanding? Guess who the buck stops with.

It has to be a relief to know that I am in control of what I do or don’t do. Yay!! I’m responsible for the amount of greenhouse gas I produce. I’m responsible for how much meat I eat!! And how much packaging I use, and how much reusable stuff I use. How much I buy. How much food I waste. Whether or not I use toothpaste tablets. Whether I take an 8 minute shower or a 20 minute shower, how many children I have, how many cars we have, whether I take a train or use my bike. Yes, me. My call.

Do I want to make these changes? No. No, I really don’t. But my home, this planet, is talking to me. It is saying that this beautiful delicate finely balanced goldilocks idyll I live on is in pain and out of kilter….and that I am in danger of making my home un-liveable….and therefore of destroying myself and/or my descendants… that I can fly to Disneyland. Our prime minister has been known to call climate protesters ‘crusties’. I don’t know why…I haven’t looked in to it. But my guess is that a lot of concerned and crusty old grannies, who have time and energy on their hands, are taking up the climate cause because they know it’s vital; that maybe their children don’t have time for it…but their grandchildren do. David Attenborough nailed it when he described developed societies as using linear instead of cyclical methods of using resources. Nature is entirely circular…the waste products of a cow goes straight into producing new crops. The (largely synthetic) waste we produce has nowhere to go….a mountainous full-stop at the end of a steaming, methane-filled line.

It’s not up to our children. It’s up to me. Do I have the energy or guts to turn the blah blah blah into real solid action? Please God, I do need a hand with my guts. I’m probably going to fail at doing some things I should be doing…but I can definitely do a few small things. I have enough faith in people to be ultimately sure of a good outcome…but one thing’s for sure…the politicians will be a hell of a lot slower than me….


PS… I’ve learnt to bake delicious vegan shortbread!!

Posted in Amazing World, Climate change, Making Things Better, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 143 – 16.10.21. Consider this….

Today I went into the local Turkish grocery shop to pick up some garlic, chillies, and maybe a pomegranate. Found all of those then wandered over to the pastry counter and found my husband’s favourite greek baklavas and also a feta pie – (these were of course turkish and not greek). Suddenly I was on the verge of tears…almost..cos I really miss Greece. And then I was reminded of the similarities between greek and turkish cuisine…not the same of course…but, you know, similar. And then I was struck by the fact that although many nations are very similar to their neighbours, they often hate each other. And they often love each other (Brits absolutely love France and the French (art/culture/cuisine/wine)…and they also hate them). Why is it like this? Is it like siblings’ love/hate relationship? What? I mean why. And does it matter anyway?

Who else hates their neighbour? Well…I guess many Scots hate the English enough to keep asking for a legal separation. Do the Canadians hate the Americans? The New Zealanders the Aussies? The Venezuelans hate the Guyanese? The Nigerians hate the Ghanaians? I don’t know for sure….but I’d be willing to bet they do.

Right now, right this very minute (midnight), our neighbours, R&N, are blasting out party music in aid of R’s 50th Birthday. They politely warned of their plan last week and I watched yesterday with trepidation as they erected a ‘Great British Bake-off’ -sized tent in their back garden. Their parties had a certain notoriety before the pandemic and was definitely a sore point for their immediate neighbours when large speakers boomed out into the garden well into the night.

We could hate R&N. But we know that it is never worth hating your neighbours. At the height of lock down, another neighbour blasted music out of his flat, in the middle of the day, and both houses in the terrace either side shook. The ensuing exchange on our local street Whatsapp group resulted in a polite note to him asking him to consider people working from home/babies trying to sleep etc…and this seemed to work. We have heard no loud music from him despite this having been a regular problem for his immediate neighbour before (he had actually greeted one of his newly arrived neighbours with something like ‘Hi!…looking forward to doing musical battle with you’).

I’m no expert (I’m not expert about sooo many things)….but I remember one piece of advice from a famous TV traveller whose name escapes me…’wherever you go, wherever you travel, you will go far just by being polite’. And I think it’s similar with neighbours…state your complaint in the politest way possible. To their credit, I guess, R&N have accepted they will be causing problems for those in their immediate vicinity, and unlike their pre-pandemic parties, had warned everyone and promised no outside noise after midnight. They’ve tried, I guess, but (she checks watch) haven’t quite kept to that timeline. So wish me luck as I try to be heard knocking at their front door above a deep and pounding drum base. The last time I did that, I had to give up, climb up a ladder and wave a flag over the back garden fence to draw their somewhat inebriated attention. (Incidentally, if you ever decide to take this kind of action, always send the woman, never the man).

In the UK ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’ which can mean ‘I can do what I like on my patch of land’. This pretty much works…if you live in a field…all of which leads me to believe that what neighbours do can be either wittingly or unwittingly inconsiderate….and that being considerate, politely just talking/listening to each other, can go a long way to reduce irritation, retaliation and even all out war. Nations take note. Now please excuse me while I grab my cricket bat and pop next door.


Posted in Everyday Life in London, Fun/Humour, Life Lessons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 142 – 2.10.21…. get out there and grow bolder

Wooo…although about 35,000 people a day are catching covid in these parts (apparently the highest rate in Europe)…many are returning to some kind of post-pandemic normal. We are short of van/lorry/tanker drivers and the brexiters are probably biting their lips as we invite ‘jonny foreigner’ in to drive long-distance lorries and pick crops. It feels like we are slowly getting off our (sore) butts and starting to do stuff again…adverts are appearing in shop windows showing 3 things – the economy is picking up, businesses need staff, and are consigning cash to history….all the pics below are from the same high street….

Edna (I think she was an Edna) stood pleading with a guard at London’s Waterloo station. I need help getting down the escalator, she said (pointing to it with her walking stick), I just can’t get down on my own. But I can’t leave my post, the guard insists. They tussle over the issue but eventually, persuasive Edna secures the arm of the rather unhappy station guard. Can I help? I ask, (having arrived at the station too early for my nearby sewing class)…Ooo..says Edna – yes please…I just need to hold on to someone’s arm going down the escalator. The relieved guard hands Edna over and we make our way down the moving stairway arm in arm (she instructs me that I must crook my arm on my hip and she will loop her arm through). Will you need help walking across the concourse I ask as we approach the bottom of the escalator. Oh yes please, says Edna, I need platform 24 and that’s right at the very end. I’m 90 says Edna (she looks but does not act 90) and I’m going to Richmond to do some ironing. Oh, I say, completely stunned that she’s 90 and apparently still working. Work keeps you going she says. I work for 2 doctors and I iron their shirts for them every week but it’s every few weeks at the moment because of the pandemic. They’re German, you know…and I’m English…but they are very nice. Edna knows an easy cut-through that involves putting her Freedom (travel) pass through a barrier and she waves away a second station guard who is indicating that she should not do that….but she’s clearly done it many times before. I’m sorry I’m so bossy she says, dragging me through. She leads me towards the 10.22 to Richmond (I must catch that train she says), then let’s go of my arm and thanks me profusely. Edna is a lady who knows exactly what she’s doing and where she is going… and age and escalators are not going to stop her.

Dealing now with my own aged mother, I know age is nothing but a time to grow bolder ( And motion is lotion….I’d better remember that.


Posted in Changing World, Everyday Life in London, Fun/Humour, Looking for the Good, talking to strangers, Uncategorized, Work | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 141 – 1.8.21. Get out the sunscreen, it’s time for a really sore butt.

OK. I get it. It’s my time for some serious butt-kicking… i.e. being on the end of it. OK Miss Pollyanna….can you cope now? Can you cope with family members with spinal tumours, or hanging from the end of a rope, or your business slowly sinking as people move out of London? Or siblings deciding that it’s too difficult to spend time with each other? Can you? I, Universe, dare you to cope. What?…are you holding back tears, are you? I dare you to crumble. Trouble sleeping?…there, there. Biff. And biff again. Stop whingeing…do you have a home? Do you have food? You do? Then you can take it. Bam.

Undeniably, there has been massive, massive change for the better. Things are massively better for me than they were for my ancestors. But…the world (the people and the planet) has a sore butt. Actually the world has always had a sore butt. It was born with a sore butt and it looks like the sore is in dire need of antibiotics. And there is no way we can say that anything has really changed, at least on the negative side of things. There have always been psychopathic leaders, wars, greed, murder, rape, torture, floods, fires, plagues. Always. This is the regular backdrop of the movie. But…. this not what I see outside my window….right here and now. I remember a clip from a film where I think an aboriginal man stands observing war/chaos all around, but is not part of it..- can’t remember which film. Finding an internal balance has to be the way for me…a still, unchanging, worry-free place where, in truth, my Father and I reside…and watch the wild movie with silent compassion, from a place of knowing. I see my mother laughing and taking immense care and joy picking out and then eating a scrummy watermelon. I see my husband being the beautiful, caring, loving, empathic, compassionate person that he is. I see the stunning fox who comes to our back door for breakfast (the cat’s leftovers) every morning. Everything, but everything I need, is right on my doorstep. Here and now, all is well.

Learning. Learning to trust. Learning that all lessons push me in one direction only – the one and only inevitable direction of safety and peace in God. I’m learning to be a better pupil. C minus…could do a lot better.

But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. And both the highs and the lows are imposters, to be treated just the same. Must remember to wear sunscreen.


Posted in Difficult times, Everyday Life in London, Family, God, Life Lessons, Looking for the Good | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Blog 140 – 13.3.21…is that really you?…

My cousin, who I know well because she lived with my family when I was young, phoned me up out of the blue from the US a few days ago. I missed her call because I was out. She phoned twice more over the next day or so, and again, very unusually, I was out. But it seemed a little panicked/urgent (given that she seldom calls), so I made sure I called her back when I got in. We had a somewhat strange ranting conversation…she was going to have a knee operation but her company’s insurance wouldn’t be paying for it because they’d laid her off her airport job because the airport was all but closed. Her private insurance would cover most of it, but, in further ranting tone, she complained that Biden was reversing all the Trump policies; taxing her and other better-off folks so that people who never worked a day in their lives could get free healthcare; handing out thousands of dollars of tax-payers money to everyone in a stimulus package she would have to pay for…. and hadn’t I seen on the telly that there were billions of immigrants at the border with their pregnant wives being ushered in and given free healthcare and housing. It was so bad, she was thinking of coming back to the UK to live because Biden was bringing in socialism.The ranting tone made it feel like I wasn’t actually talking to her at all. And I had to tell her that Europe invented she wasn’t going to get much of a break here….

I also suggested that perhaps these ‘immigrants’ that Biden was ‘letting in for free’ were perhaps legitimate refugees, maybe? (I have no idea). And that perhaps it might benefit her to stop watching the news. I also jokingly mentioned to her that most immigrants would hesitate at putting themselves through US customs….which, in my experience, is mightily hostile to all ‘aliens’. I suggested she remember that she lives in the richest country in the world, has access to arguably the best healthcare in the world, as well as covid jabs and all the food she could possibly need. I don’t know exactly what her job is at the airport, but she looks after international passengers so she hears directly what it’s like to go through US customs….she remembers how grateful international passengers feel when they see a friendly face like hers…how she enjoys helping them feel comfortable….she misses her job…she is such a people person. At this point I hear her voice change and my real cousin returns…

I trust the superb surgeons who will have operated on her will have done a great job and that she will be up and running once she has completed her physio…I pray also that she focuses steadfastly on the vast positives that come from living in a rich western country, that she reduces and monitors her news intake judiciously, and looks forward to a future where she has a healthier body and a life where she does what she really likes doing…which is serving others. She’s in control of that.


Posted in Gratitude, Looking for the Good, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog 139 – 5.3.21. I’m not anti-anybody…

You know me….I like to be positive. I still have plenty of food, a lovely house, a job, a great husband and a beautiful cat called Millie. There is a plentiful supply of vaccines and no doubt I will rise to the top of the list soon…the government is doing well on that front. But the (no socialising/no going out unless essential) full lock down in the UK is getting to me. Husband, who hates MacDonald’s, found it ‘essential’ to go for a ‘picnic’ at a drive-in….ordering something called a MacTasty(?). So we ate with a view of a concrete boundary wall and artificial grass. Like everyone, we are having zoom meetings with friends/zoom quizzes etc…but I feel so restricted. Outside exercise under cold tupperware skies do not appeal. At least husband has started a new job…with a one flight of stairs commute. Excitement around here is when a dying smoke detector wakes us up at 3 am and we have to fumble for the rcd on the consumer unit to shut it up….

An antibody test shows I have antibodies to covid-19. I have had no symptoms…unless a cold I had over a year ago was it…. but this would have been about 5 weeks before the first lockdown…when coronavirus was mostly something going on in Spain and Italy…when the approaching covid tsunami had not massively hit our shores…

Something is up. There is mental turmoil going on….a tenant is erupting with repeated angry, sarcastic, bullying messages…and there really is no explanation for it. A cousin, in lock down abroad, has been involved in an unspeakable tragedy. Lack of cash/not having a job is driving some to be inventive…but perhaps not in the best way. My delightful youngest sister had an explanation as to why I might be exposed to these challenging situations: she has faith in me and thinks I can deal with it. There is negativity ramping up like a lion with a thorn in its paw and, although I’m a pretty useless nurse, maybe the reserves are within me to respond with compassion, and contribute to making things better. Fingers crossed.

Pandemic picnic


PS. Since originally drafting this post, Mr. Johnson has announced a ‘roadmap’ out of lock down….but as far as I can see, things will remain pretty restricted until mid-May….I am however, buoyed up by the fact that I had my first AstraZeneca jab today – so my already resident antibodies will be multiplying and bouncing around the place….invaders (variants or not) don’t stand much of a chance I think…..incidently here’s a podcast between a fitness trainer and an immunologist, which I found pretty helpful:

The Immune System, COVID 19 and why the vaccine is a good idea

Posted in Coronavirus/Covid-19/pandemic, Everyday Life in London, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 138 – 25.12.20 – Meal deal for 2…

I have a theory (actually it’s not my theory), that all pain and suffering and even slight irritations have a purpose…and that purpose is education. There is something to be learnt. My covid lessons have taught me, primarily, how to make face masks. Plus, how to teach others; how to bake banana bread, how to entertain myself; what I can live without; how important and useful and clever (and lovely) my husband is; why time with my mother is irreplaceable….and today it will teach me to make Christmas dinner.

I have never, ever made Christmas dinner…we’ve always managed to get out of it…mostly by virtue of 1. not having children and 2. not strictly being able to cook. So Christmas is either with his family or my mum…and I’m just required to bring a side dish or a dessert. I give my mum a lump of cash as my contribution, or buy an organic turkey for my ex-cook sister-in-law and her husband to deal with. Job done.

But of course coronavirus is turning everything on its head. We were prepared to not travel anywhere and have Christmas dinner at home with 1 other household – my god-daughter and her parents, who live 10 minutes away. But the latest variant of the virus (which has put us into a sudden tier 4 lock down here in London)…means no socialising outside of your own household whatsoever. So, like many well-prepared boy scout types, I am stuck with a pile of cranberry sauce, a large Christmas pudding, 2 tubs of brandy butter and enough turkey for 8. But….I’m mightily relieved that my first Christmas turkey will be just for me and Husband. Relieved, because we get to learn how to roast a turkey, cook crisp roast potatoes and parsnips, make bread sauce and most of the other side dishes, but have none of the stress of anyone else having to eat it. And we’ll have stacks of left-overs for turkey and ham pie…etc.

Thanks for the lesson covid!


Posted in Coronavirus/Covid-19/pandemic, Education/learning, Everyday Life in London, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment