Penny’s Diary

About Penny 

In 1984 Penny started her 'official career' in the early years sector as a parent helper at the Playgroup her children attended and then becoming more involved by joining the Playgroup Committee and helping out as an active fundraiser. By default she became involved with the PPA (now the Early Years Alliance) and then went on to register as a Childminder and joined the NCMA (now PACEY). Penny has always been an active supporter and campaigner for early years and was rewarded for her contributions by receiving a British Empire Medal in the Queen's 2016 Birthday Honours list. 

Penny also retired from Childminding in 2016 with the plan to continue advocating and campaigning, delivering training, host conferences and support the sector she loved. Sadly in 2017, she became ill and as a result suffers from poor physical ability and chronic pain, meaning she had to curtail the activities she had planned. Penny continues to support the sector however she can by attending various functions, engaging in social media, acting as a mentor for others and writing. 

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Penny has had to self-isolate with her husband Garry and has agreed to share her thoughts and experiences during this period in the hope it will support and help others. 

Day One - The beginning of self-isolation
Monday 16th March
Technically today was not a day of self-isolation, and I had no idea that by the evening I would be self-isolating. However, it is the beginning of my journey and so I will start with today’s events.

The day started normally enough with the usual school day breakfast time. One of our grandsons (15) now lives with us; he has Asperger’s and needs a lot of support but on this day, he was up and ready on time and looking forward to a trip to Worcester Rugby Club with his school. Another grandson (16) stays with us 3 nights a week so that he can walk to the train station to catch the train to college as he can’t do this from his family home.

Once both boys had left the house, my husband Garry and I set off to a local supermarket to do the weekly shop. Normally I do not do the food shopping due to my long term health issues, but today I decided to go because Garry had tried to do it on Saturday and found most items we needed out of stock due to panic buying / hording by others because of the fears around coronavirus

We arrived at the supermarket just 3 mins after it had opened, but it was already quite busy. Between us we managed to get many of the things we needed for our typical weekly shop, but not everything as there were no toilet rolls, hand soap or bleach. Other things were in short supply and the supermarket had restrictions in place, attempting to ensure there was enough for everyone. We did manage to buy small quantities of pasta, meat, potatoes and eggs – enough for our needs, so we think we were lucky.

After we had put the shopping away we made a spur of the moment decision to go into town. With hindsight I am glad we did, even though I did push myself too much and suffered ‘pain payback’ due to my ill health. While in town we had a look in a couple of charity shops, something we like to do as it helps with budgeting as we now live on a small pension and disability benefits plus we support recycling

We also visited a small independent café, where we enjoyed a hot chocolate and for me, a slice of cake; we were able to sit at a table well away from other customers, due to my health issues I was already worried about the spread of the coronavirus. The other task we needed to do, and main reason for going to town was to buy some ‘Lift the Flap books for our youngest grandchild’s 2nd birthday. Mission achieved we headed home.

In the early afternoon I popped next door to visit my neighbour, something I have done just about every week since her husband sadly died over 18 months ago. I know from personal experience of not being able to do much in terms of getting out and about, just how lonely it can be if isolated. My neighbour is still fit and active, but she does spend a lot of time on her own and tells me she welcomes my weekly visits and just knowing Garry and I are just next door if she needs help. Garry does little tasks for her like mowing the lawn and cutting the hedge, plus small DIY jobs. It costs nothing to be a good neighbour and does make a difference. I was not to know that by the end of the day that we would all be needing good neighbours and networks of friends and colleagues.

In spare moments during the day I had carried on with my knitting. Sometimes I knit for charity via my local knitting group, but today I was knitting a jumper for grandchild 12 who is due mid June. I completed the left side of the front which can be seen in the photo along with the right side.

At 5.30pm Garry and I were watching the Prime Minister briefing; like many we were shocked at how fast things are moving with Coronavirus, and the impact on everyone’s lives. After the broadcast our heads were buzzing, and we had so many questions about what we should do? This was a question that only we could answer.

Around the same time, I was communicating with someone from the One Show. He wanted to put a post in my Facebook group but after discussion with the other admin it was decided that it was not appropriate so I posted on my own page, but was also exchanging messages as the One Show wanted to talk to families where grandparents provided childcare and if doing so increased their risk of getting coronavirus – and this was my personal situation. In the end it was decided that due to my health risks and other factors I would not be involved with the show.

However my discussions with the One Show helped clarify things in my mind and I knew Garry and I needed to change things. We discussed it further and, involving the parents of our 16-year-old grandson and the parents of our 5-year-old granddaughter who we also look after. The decision was made, we needed to self-isolate and restrict the comings and goings in the house in order to keep ourselves safe; this meant we would have stop looking after our 16 year old grandson and 5 year old granddaughter, plus also remove our 15 year old grandson from school.

Emails were sent to the 15 year old’s school and social worker explaining that he would go to school on Tuesday (to allow him to tell his peers, for school to set him work to do at home, and for the taxi to be cancelled), but then he would be able to return to school until it was safe to do so.

The 16 year old packed up his things and put them in the porch to be collected, along with the lift the flap books which had been hastily wrapped for his little sisters 2nd birthday on Wednesday as we would no longer be able to attend the birthday celebrations. I was so glad we had been to town and had bought the gifts as this was the last chance to get them to her. The plan was that 16-year-old would get up in the morning and go to college but return to his home at the end of the day; his parents would make alternative arrangements to get him to college. Both Garry and I felt we were letting him down as he had been staying with us 3 nights a week since he started college in September, but we also knew we had no choice as we needed to reduce the risk of coronavirus coming into the house because according to Government guidelines, I am in the high risk group.

I went to bed with lots of thoughts running through my mind and the feeling that I was letting everyone down, but also knowing that I had to protect myself from the risk of contracting coronavirus, which with my state of health could result in serious illness or ever death.

None of us know how long this will last, but it will be for weeks and not days, and possibly even months. My plan is to record my journey though this period of self-isolation and how I am managing to stay positive, how I cope with the low points and how I overcome any boredom and depression due to this situation.

Day Two
Tuesday 17th March
I did not sleep well, partly because so much on my mind and partly because I was in pain from overdoing it on Monday; so I was up in the early hours and took some oramorph (quick release morphine) which I take as needed to supplement the zomorph (slow release morphine) that I take regularly twice a day.

I did some knitting, starting the back of the baby jumper, and watched a little TV which was mainly about coronavirus and the Prime Minister briefing on Monday. It seems the financial markets are reacting very negatively and I have to admit I am worried about the long term impact on all of us – our personal finances and our ability as a country to pay for the support packages. I personally worry about the impact once the pandemic is over and we have to pick up the pieces / recover financially. Will we have many years of high taxes and huge personal cost paying back loans and credit cards? The Government had of course announced support in the budget but to me it seems many businesses will become bankrupt and many individuals will lose their jobs or have to take unpaid leave.

I am really worried about my childcare colleagues for three reasons;

  • First the need for close contact with the children in their settings and the potential for coronavirus to be spread. I know experts say that children are not particularly at risk and will normally only get a mild dose, but they could be carriers and spread it to the entire setting.
  • Second if the Government say they have to close or they close due to staff getting the virus, how they will survive because they have been underfunded for so many years few of them have any financial reserves.
  • Third how settings will manage to buy the consumables they need given the current panic buying? Yesterday I saw a tweet saying that a setting had to go to supermarkets to buy nappies as they did not get their normal supply. On Facebook a setting was giving thanks to parents who had donated items which the post said was a huge help.

Such worrying times for everyone.

My grandsons then got up, and I had to stop looking at both TV and social media. The 16 year old set off to catch his train to college, it was a difficult moment as hugs not allowed just in case any of us are carrying the virus, but none of us are sure when we will see each other again due to our decision to self isolate. I was still feeling I had let him down and beginning to worry about the whole self isolation thing.

The 15 year then left in his taxi to go to his school which is around a 40 – 50 minute drive as it is a specialist school. I was anxious about how he would cope in light of the coming changes.

I then tried to settle to some more knitting but my anxiety was getting the better of me and I was very unsettled. I ended up doing some ironing, cleaning a bathroom, tidying the 15-year old’s bedroom and then doing 2 loads of washing. I also hoovered the lounge and water the plants, not all at once, but during the day. I knew this much activity was a mistake and because of my Monday activities and would result in more pain payback later on. However, I just could not sit still, I think the impact of the anxiety around self-isolating and how will I cope has not yet been fully appreciated. I am used to being at home a lot, because since the onset of my illness 3 years ago I have been very limited in what I can do, and where I can go. I wonder how those who are used to going out to work or school will cope with the sudden changes to their routines and being stuck within the 4 walls of their home.

Garry is able to go out as he is not as vulnerable as me, although he has to take precautions around social distancing and hand washing. He went to the chemist to fetch my prescription and to a shop to get a couple things not sold at the supermarket we went to yesterday. While he was out, I had a phone call from the 15-year old’s school; I was right in my fears, he was anxious and not coping. They asked if we could collect him but also confirmed in reply to my email yesterday that they totally understood our situation and it was fine to keep him off school. So as soon as Garry got back, he had to go and collect our grandson. I think Garry being out for most of the morning was another reason why I was finding it hard to settle, something else people need to consider if they have to stay at home on their own. I watched something on the TV that suggested if self-isolating you really need to set your own schedule of routines, so you know what you are doing and when. Something for us all to consider in this changing world, and something I need to get much better at.

While Garry was fetching our grandson, I had a visitor, my youngest daughter and my granddaughter but of course I could not let them into the house. My daughter dropped off things to the porch and collected some things she wanted to borrow that we had left in the porch for her. I did open the front window and had a quick chat while she stood a good distance away on the drive. I could only wave at my granddaughter as she stayed in the car. It was very surreal and I guess we are going to have to get used to this new way of passing things to and from family and friends, and indeed helpful neighbours because like in many communities we have had a note through our door offering support such as collecting shopping, all of which will have to be left at the front door.

Garry and our grandson returned and of course washed their hands thoroughly. My grandson was quite wound up because he thought there were pupils at school who had been in contact with others with coronavirus; he was very unhappy because he worries about me getting the virus. After lunch I tried to have a nap but could not drop off to sleep, unusual for me as normally I have no trouble sleeping at lunch time. I guess not being able to sleep is going to an issue for many due to worry and having to avoid social contact and so might be bored and stressed

When I got up there was an email from the school confirming what our grandson had told us plus a bit more info. Two pupils had been in contact and had gone to school (they were later sent home); one pupil was being tested for coronavirus and 4 members of staff were self-isolating, plus 4 other families had taken the same decision as ourselves to keep their child off school. I wish the school had told us this when Garry collected our grandson as I think it is important information is shared as quickly and as honestly as possible.

I managed to sit down and do a bit of knitting in the afternoon but once again I was glued to the TV for the Prime Ministers briefing. There was a lot of information about help for businesses, but I could not help noticing there was no specific information about early years settings. The measures being taken made me glad we had decided to self-isolate and to remove our grandson from school as listening to how the virus is spreading made me feel very vulnerable.

The amount of money being mentioned in order to support businesses and the NHS was eye watering and I was once again wondering how the country could afford this both in the short term and the long term.

During the evening I did some more knitting and spent some time on social media, I was pleased to see posts about early years settings still being able to claim the early years funding but in my opinion this is not enough as not all settings offer funded places, and I know fees for additional hours and for under two’s often make the difference in being sustainable or not.

I also noted an increase in community spirit and the coming together of people in the same situation. Within early years I noticed posts from all the major membership organisations, and an increase in the role being undertaken by EY Matters, which is encouraging in these difficult times.

As I went to bed I thought ‘Well I have survived my first full day of self isolation – and I have managed some more knitting’ (as can be seen from the photo of the back of the jumper).

But I also thought. how many days will I need to do this? and how will I manage as I will have to stay in the house most of the time? I admit I am very worried at this moment in time both about getting the virus and coping with self-isolation. I am also worried about family, friends and colleagues and all our futures.

Day Three
Wednesday 18th March
I went to bed last night full of worries about my own situation and that of my family, friends and colleagues, and how we would all survive coronavirus and its impact.

Little did I or anyone else know that by the end of the day, things would be a whole lot more complicated and serious.

I am jumping ahead of myself which is what happens when you record your actions and thoughts at the end of the day. As I sat eating my breakfast at 5am, my head was full of practical thoughts including how I could keep my grandson occupied and motivated, and how I would ensure his wellbeing for what could be quite a long time; and the same for myself.

I did some knitting, a little bit of ironing and watched breakfast TV. Normally I don’t watch much TV but at the moment I find myself drawn to news programmes, I suppose I am worried about missing something important. However this morning there was nothing much new other than the latest figures about new cases of coronavirus and sadly deaths. In the UK the number of both new cases and deaths has started to jump with predictions of worse to come over the coming days, weeks and months. This depresses me as I think of all those who will lose loved ones, and to be honest I worry that I might get it and indeed due to my health condition, that I will die. I know I am taking sensible precautions and following government advice – but will it be enough? Every time Garry leaves the house for essential shopping, or walks the dogs; or he or our grandson go out for a walk or bike ride for their exercise there is a small risk they will touch something touched recently by someone with the virus, and unwittingly despite ‘social distancing’ bring the virus home. This is a big worry for me because as well as underlying health issues which make me more vulnerable, I react negatively to many drugs (and this includes the ones I should take for my diabetes) and so if I do get coronavirus the drugs used to treat it and to support recovery may not work for me.

I watched some more TV, this time old ‘Homes under the Hammer’ but I was not really in the mood and so after a short time I turned it off.

I did not have to worry about our grandsons activities for the morning because he did not get up until the afternoon! I had asked him to get up by 9am and to be ready to do something educational (in the broadest sense because I know everything is actually part of a holistic education) by 9.30 am. However, I understand in the grand scheme of things sleeping in is not a big issue and will be beneficial because of all the stress of the last couple of weeks due to his worries about coronavirus and the impact on us all. I also know that due to being on the autistic spectrum all the changes and uncertainty around what will happen and when, will have unsettled him and caused additional anxieties to those he deals with on a daily basis.

Once he was up, he quickly completed 2 worksheets sent home by school on Tuesday, one about online safety and one about World War Two. He then spent some time online chatting to friends before doing a workout with his weights for about an hour. So not typical educational activity but not too bad for day one of these new routines.

During the afternoon my friend Carol dropped off some lovely homemade cake into my porch. I think these acts of kindness are going to be vital over the next few weeks or months and something we can all do. Although I could not open the door to my friend or give her a hug, I did wave to her through the window; to be honest it was just nice to see a friendly face. I will return the favour not only to Carol but to other friends and neighbours, maybe some flowers, or a plant, some shopping, lending or giving a book or a puzzle, a handmade gift - anything really to bring a smile to someone’s face or to help them out.

Once again I found myself watching the Prime Minister’s Briefing and sat in shock at the new measures being taken; pumping more money in, closing schools and early years settings, cancelling end of year exams, trying to ensure care arrangements for the children of keyworkers such as those who work in supermarkets and NHS staff. The whole thing is a huge nightmare in planning and to put into action. People’s lives being impacted on in so many different ways. For the first time since becoming ill I was glad that I was not in work as the pressure on those having to self-isolate or close their business must be huge. It appears that there will be help from government but the details of how to get that help are limited at the moment. I hope companies and individuals can hang on long enough to get the help they need. One friend contacted me to say her husband was being made redundant, another that her son in law who is self-employed has had all his work cancelled for the next 3 months, understandably people are very worried.

During the evening I was active on social media (as were many other people). I run a Facebook group for childcare professionals, and it was very busy with people asking questions and desperate for information. I shared as much information as I could but witnessed this disbelief in some, the denial in others, the community spirit of some and sadly the selfishness of others who were only concerned about themselves and not in being proactive to come together to do whatever is needed. Luckily much more community spirit than selfishness. Many were sharing links to free resources for children, and some were offering their professional advice for free.

There was a lot of confusion about which schools and settings needed to stay open, and who was deemed to be a ‘keyworker’ and therefore needing care for their children. Hopefully more guidance will be giving over the coming days.

I think people have forgotten about or underestimated the impact of change on those who are on the autistic spectrum and they are going to need a lot of support especially now some of them will be at home with families rather that at school. In fact all children are going to need support and understanding as we enter this period of uncertainty and worry. They will be picking up on adults concerns and having concerns of their own, and although some will think a long time off school is a great idea, when they realise they won’t be able to play with friends or take part in sports and other hobbies they may well change their minds.

On a personal note I did manage a bit more knitting as can be seen in the photo. Still quite a bit more of the back to do, plus the sleeves and bands. However think I am going to have lots of time to finish it before the baby is born.

Day Four
Thursday 19th March
Another bad night’s sleep! To be honest this is not unusual for me as I often wake in discomfort or pain, or to go to the toilet due to my health conditions. However I am now finding once awake and even after taking more pain relief, I just cannot go back to sleep as my brain is in overdrive. Normally if I go on social media in the early hours hardly anyone else is online, but today lots of people were online and many of them were reporting they were not sleeping due to worry and spending time trying to come up with a workable plan for themselves and / or their business.

I am generally a positive person, and this morning I tried to think of ways to keep the three of us busy, and how to support family members we can no longer visit – nor they visit us. Despite my positive nature, I am finding it hard at the moment and I know lots are in much worse situations than myself including all my childminding friends and colleagues in settings across the country. I think the enormity of it all has still not fully sunk in, and that myself and so many others have so many unanswered questions.

I put the TV on at 5am having already been up for hour. I had been doing my thinking while trying to dust the lounge and generally tidy up. I think keeping busy is essential and yesterday Garry and I decided we would do a sort of deep clean to keep busy. Since being ill I have not been able to keep on top of the non-essential housework, and Garry was working and caring for me for the first 2 years. Since taking early retirement last year to look after me, he has been busy ensuring my wellbeing by taking me out for coffee or to visit National Trust places and other places of interest. How I miss those breakfast time conversations of ‘What shall we do today?’ ‘Shall we just go for coffee or should we go for a drive, visit somewhere and have coffee or lunch there?’ Now we have a similar discussion but it is only about what to do here at home, what to have for tea and maybe what DVD to watch in the evening – all so different and to be honest even after less than a week I am already fed up of the subject matter and limited choices. Others not self-isolating will have slightly more choices but will need to respect social distancing to protect us all. Some will have the option of going for long walks on their own or with someone from their household - I wish I had this option but even with walking aids I cannot walk far or for long and my aids are really not suitable for hill or forest walks and so I really need to stick to hard footpaths, as even gravel footpaths are an issue.

Those with children, and especially children with additional needs are going to have to be very inventive in how to keep the children busy and motivated to take part in things, and how to include at least some educational aspect. Luckily lots of people are providing free online resources and ideas. However, I know from my experiences since Tuesday it is not easy to get children and young people to engage. These are very scary times for them and some are in ‘school holiday mode’ some are just too anxious to do anything much, and some think ‘Why bother?’

During the morning I did some knitting (not much) and communicated with family and friends via text and messenger, I shared quite a lot within my Facebook group, helped Garry to finish the task of deep cleaning the lounge, and wrote a bit of my diary entry for Wednesday. I was still on edge and still finding things difficult. I really am not liking this self isolation thing!

As I was extra tired I went for my nap just before lunch time, everything tires me and has since being ill, but now I am tiring even more easily. I guess this is because I am pushing myself by doing more than usual, even though this is still not much compared to what healthy people do, and I am in a stressed, emotional state which adds to feelings of tiredness.

Once again I found it difficult to sleep but due to my exhaustion I did eventually sleep for an hour.

When I woke my grandson had got up and gone for a bike ride, this had been agreed to in principle the night before, but he was supposed to give me the details of where he was going in the morning – and I was going to give him a reminder of what social distancing means especially as I knew one other person was joining him for the bike ride. Oh well he had already gone and so just had to trust his judgement and common sense. Luckily due to his Asperger’s he tends to avoid people and does not like large groups of people, so I had my fingers crossed all would be well. As it happens he text me about then to say had met up with his friend, and so I was able to text back and remind him about social distancing.,

One of my close friends phoned during the afternoon, it was lovely to hear her voice. Of course, we discussed the situation, and as she is also self-isolating, we discussed how we were coping with the sudden change to our routines and freedom. One of our shared hopes is that some good will come from this (once we have got through it), we hope there will be more community spirit, and really hope that government will realise there is more to education than academic studies and testing. We feel life skills, resilience, adaptability, self motivation, positive attitude and similar personal skills will be the ones that support children and adults to cope with these challenging times. My friend and I also discussed the importance of staying in touch with people. She mentioned herself and her husband had been phoning people and that the phone calls had been most welcome. I must make a point of phoning people more often even though due to childhood experiences I really do not like making phone calls.

During the afternoon I was also communicating with various people from the early years sector and facilitating introductions and information sharing. I like it when I am asked to be involved with things, and will always do what I can to help.

My grandson sent a text to say he was on the way home and returned before tea-time. He was covered in mud but had clearly had a good time. I was pleased about this because it was going to be the last time for the foreseeable future that he would be able to do this. Garry and I had discussed it, and decided the risks were too high, and could undermine the whole point of self-isolation.

Before we knew it was time for the Prime Minister briefing. The first thing I noticed was the reporters were sitting further apart and therefore practicing social distancing. There was a lot of information about how they hope to reduce the impact on the NHS, and they explained a bit more about how the virus is spread and how we all have a role to play in preventing it spreading and not only stopping increasing the pressure on the NHS but preventing more deaths although the Chief Medical Officer was clear there would be more deaths. Disappointingly there was no further information about how companies could access support, or who the keyworkers were that would need support with childcare via schools and early years settings. I appreciate it must be very hard for government and I would not like to be Prime Minister at this time; I also appreciate that because things are moving so fast the government are constantly having to update their plans. However I felt a lot of anxiety is being cause to companies and individuals as they simply do not know how to access support or what to do for the best.

Once I had finished my diary entry for Wednesday I sent it to Juls of EYMatters along with a question about when my diary entries would be able to go live. Juls is currently working very hard to provide as much information and support as she can, and she does all of this as a volunteer in her own time, so I was not putting pressure on her. However as things are moving so fast I was concerned that my diary entries would be out of date and not of interest to others.

During the evening Garry and I watch an old Morse DVD, we have the whole set and so as we now have the time, we will be watching them. Oh, and the knitting? I have not done as much as I hoped but some progress with the back of the jumper has been made.

Day Five
Friday 20th March
I actually slept a bit better last night, through sheer exhaustion I think. I still got up as many times as usual but was able to go back to sleep, I also did not get up until 5am which was an improvement. As humans we can only keep going for so long, and we will all have our own limit, mine was reached last night. Of course having a long term illness and having to cope with chronic pain does not help. Some who have read my diary entries for this week may be saying to themselves ‘well I don’t think Penny has done very much – why is she exhausted?’ Fair enough I don’t do much – I physically can’t. The point of mentioning this is not to get sympathy but to try to relate it to the current pandemic situation. Each of us will be in a different place, physically and emotionally, each person will find different aspects difficult. Therefore, we must not assume everyone is the same as ourselves, so we need to be kind in our words and thoughtful in our actions.

Those of you who have read previous diary entries will know I have been up earlier than usual, yet my grandson has been getting up much later than usual. I am fairly calm and reasoned about the situation, yet both my husband and grandson have anxieties (different ones) which means they are constantly on edge and need sensitive interaction and support. It also means the two of them are struggling a bit with their relationship and not acting as they normally would – and this is all to be expected in households up and down the country. One of my daughters is self isolating because she is pregnant and also took her daughter out of school on Monday well before schools were closed – yet her husband still has to go to work because if he doesn’t he won’t get paid due to his work still being open.. So in their household there are all sorts of concerns around possible spreading of the virus and therefore much hand washing and cleaning of everything. Another daughter works in care home and is doing extra shifts / has reduced number of colleagues due to self isolating. She has 5 children, 3 of whom are young, so in her household they are time short, tired and worried about the virus being brought home.

So when you read something or overhear something, or witness someone displaying their feelings openly – don’t judge them because you have no idea what they are dealing with pandemic wise – and that is on top of all their everyday worries.

We are in this together and all need to be considerate of each other.

Friday continued much as any other day since starting self-isolation, except we had a phone call from my grandson’s school. They spoke directly to him to ask how he was coping and if they could help. Hey also chatted briefly about the work they were emailing him. They also spoke to me about his work and how to send back to school, and asked about his wellbeing. Earlier they had emailed some work for him to complete and send back. My grandson is not over keen on doing work at home; he struggles with the concept that although not at school he still has schoolwork to do due to his Asperger’s. I guess many will struggle with idea that this is not just an extra long holiday and so will need support of parents or carers. We will of course be supporting him and helping where we can, but we are not going to push this too much as we feel children and young people need to adjust to the changes. We also believe there is a lot more to education than worksheets. As it was my grandson hoover some mud up from the bathroom and landing that he had left there yesterday, went on a bike ride, came back with a puncture and set about trying to fix it. He also practiced on his guitar for a while, listen to music, played a game on the Xbox and chatted to friend’s online. I would argue that these were educational activities, but I know not everyone will agree with me.

As we have done all week, we sat down for the Prime Minister briefing. WOW! At last some support for everyday people through paying 80% of wages and even a hint at an increase in benefits, but very little information about self-employed people such as my friend’s son in law, my neighbour and all my childminding friends. I listen to the advice given about exercise and children playing out. Seem sensible to me and very much in line with my discussion with Garry yesterday about our grandson’s activities. Seems our decision about going out with friends was spot on. I was glad things were spelt out for example not sharing lifts and not going to parks. I also approved of the decision to close all places where people meet socially However, I was quite depressed to see people’s reactions about ignoring social distancing and still meeting up with each other in their homes. I also saw on social media that some are still going to sporting activities and some are going out to campsites in their caravans or motorhomes. They just don’t seem to get it and think they are ok, and worse do not think about being a carrier and spreading to other people.

We have a ‘new to us’ motorhome which we only brought a month ago and have only used once. We had several campsites booked and due to my deteriorating health wanted to get out and about as much as we could while I could physically still do so. However we have decided to cancel all our campsite bookings and postpone any holidays until this is over. There is a risk that by the time this is over I will be too ill to use it, but we think better to act sensibly to help stop the spread of the virus (and of course reduce the risk of any of us getting it) than be selfish and continue with our plans.

During the evening I was active on social media for a while trying to support friends and colleagues, but I also watched another Morse DVD – and finally finished the back of the jumper I am knitting. Tomorrow I will start the sleeves.

Days Six & Seven
Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd March
I made the decision on Friday afternoon that I would combine my diary entries for the weekends, because one of the things I learned in the early days of my illness when I could not walk at all unaided and was confined to my bedroom (no TV in there) was that the days slipped by and it was hard to keep track of the days, weeks and months. So one of the things that helped was to try to define the days and weeks by doing something different at the weekends. I don’t think it matters what you do different so long as it works for you, and it does not even have to be at the weekend that you do the different thing or things.

I remember my grandmother having set routines which as a child I thought was rather silly but now I see why it helped. For Nanny it was things like Monday was washing day, Tuesday batch baking day, Wednesday ironing day and so forth, I am not sure I have remember correctly what she did on each day but that does not matter, it is having a routine that is important. You may have a noticed a sort of routine in my previous diary entries in the things I do, such as when I do household tasks, when I do hobbies and when I watch TV. So I have a sort of routine that has been in place since I was ill; over time it has changed and of course some days don’t go to plan, or are planned to be different. Remember those daily conversations I have with Garry each day? It is important you have these conversations with those you live with as helps with your shared routines and individual ones, so now we include our grandson more in the discussions and decisions because before he had set routines such as school 5 days a week; dodgeball on Tuesdays, Climbing Club on Thursdays, but now he is here at home with us all week with hardly any routine.

You will have noted that for the first few days of this self isolation I have given my grandson a little bit of time to get used to the sudden changes and have not insisted on things like when he gets up, or when he does the work set by school, as like most people he was in shock and so related to our situation a bit like a school holiday. However, routines are essential for all of us and particularly for children who, like our grandson, are on the autistic spectrum.

Therefore, this weekend I have started introducing routines for him. Old routines to start with as easier to achieve than new routines, so I have reintroduced his weekend get up times – 10 am on a Saturday and 12 noon on a Sunday just as it was prior to self isolation. Guess what? He complied. No need to keep calling up the stairs or knocking on his bedroom door, he just got up. I noticed he was more settled and actually managed his time better, fitting in family things and his hobbies / personal routines. This means he took part in a family walk, tidied his room, put his washing in the washing basket, organised with Garry to borrow some photography related stuff so he could set up a photo shoot in our house and with Garry’s help, finished mending his bike as it turned out it did not need a puncture repair it need a whole new inner tube.

Monday – Thursday our grandson will be required to get up at 9 am and to fit in two 45 min sessions of concentrating on set schoolwork (I will be increasing this to either 2 x 1hr session or maybe 3 x 45min sessions next week – but don’t tell him!).

There is a reason why he is not required to get up at 9am on Friday or to do school work – it is because it is his 16th birthday. I feel sorry for him that his plans have all been cancelled, he should of attended ‘Comic.Con’ this Sunday but of course was cancelled and on his birthday he should have been going to Pizza Hut with his cousin but now that will not be possible, so I think a lie in and no school work that day is reasonable in the circumstances. I am sure we will think of something to do but as he has already had his birthday present (which was a very nice but second hand bike – hence buying when became available) his birthday is going to be a bit of a non-event.

I mentioned a family walk this weekend in the bit above about routines; we did this on Saturday and it was a success but due to actions of others something we will not repeat, and in fact due to the ever changing situation in terms of government advice and opportunities available we will not be able to extend our idea for the foreseeable future. You may be wondering what I am talking about – well read on, because our idea was not just a straight forward family walk.

Garry and I had discussed the fact that we are all stuck in the house / garden, me in particular. Garry and our grandson had been out to do essential shopping and to walk the dog, our grandson had been out on his bike a couple of times but I had only been for a short stretch of my legs pushing my rollator half way down our street on Thursday and Friday which meant about 10 mins of fresh air each time. The good thing was I did see anyone as the street was deserted, but the bad thing was it was not very exciting. So we hatched a grand plan which we thought would be beneficial for all of us. The idea was that we would use our motorhome to get out and about more and in particular to visit National Trust parks and gardens. We are National Trust members but of course the houses, shops and cafes are all closed, however it had been announced the parks and gardens would remain open and in fact open for free to everyone not just members in an attempt to support everyone’s well-being. The benefit of using the motorhome was that I could stay in the motorhome as I am most at risk but would have a different view out of the window (and enjoy the drive to get there) and that

Garry and our grandson could take Max, our Lab, for a lovely walk through the wonderful National Trust parks and gardens. Another huge benefit would be we had our own toilet facilities (essential for me due to my health conditions) and we would also be able to make our own hot drinks.

We thought our plan was perfect and fool proof but just to be sure we decided to go somewhere very local and on Saturday afternoon drove the 5 - 6 miles to our local forest. As we pulled in through the gate we could not believe how many other people had had the same idea, however we thought it was still worth parking as I could stay in the motorhome as planned and so avoid all the people, and Garry and our grandson could take Max for a long walk. We had actually taken our 14 year old Jack Russell, Stan with us, but due to his deteriorating health he would stay in the motorhome with me.

First problem was finding a big enough car parking place, as even the dedicated coach and horsebox areas were filled with cars, but we did manage to find one eventually. Next problem was getting a car park ticket as there was a very long queue and no one was engaging in social distancing. Garry was also concerned at all those people pushing the buttons on the car park machine and no sign of hand gel supplied or taken by those using the car park. We had taken our own and so Garry was able to sanitise his hands after buying our ticket, but I dread to think how many could have been spreading coronavirus or indeed other bugs.

I settled down to do some knitting and was quite happy looking out of the window at the edge of the forest, and people watching (something I have always liked to do, but even more so since being ill and often confined to a chair or a bench). I was shocked at the lack of social distancing, people were clearly meeting friends and were shaking hands, hugging and kissing just as they would have pre-pandemic time – even those with children. They seemed to have a complete disregard for the advice and guidance given by government, including senior health advisors.

Time passed and I even had a bit of a rest, covering myself with a fleece blanket that we keep in the motorhome, and I used the toilet several times, feeling very grateful that I could do so and not have to venture out to public toilets. Garry, our grandson, and dog returned but they were not very happy; they reported that it had been very hard to practice social distancing due to the behaviour of others who would stop suddenly leaving no room for them to get past or others who would run past them but far to close, or some who were standing in groups chatting to those they met and so blocking the path. It seemed our grand plan was not such a good plan after all, as we could not predict or control the actions of others. However, after more sanitising of hands, we decided we might as well have our hot drink before heading home.

Once at home we had a debrief and decided that we could not do this again as the risk was too high, mainly to ourselves but also to others if we unwittingly passed the virus on. As it happens others, including government and the National Trust were aware of this selfish behaviour and by Sunday, the National Trust had reversed their decision and were shutting all their parks and gardens to everyone; the Prime Minister had announced all pubs, cafes and other places where people met social were also to close. In general the lock down was starting! we were informed that the caravan parks we use as members were to shut down, and so everyone now had far less options of where they could go and what they could do. A shame because if everyone complied with advice to socially distance themselves, this could have been avoided. However I think over the next week we will be told we have to stay at home – not just advised.

One thing that has changed and is evolving is businesses adapting and trying to provide services to people. One of these is a local Fish and Chip shop; you can no longer go into the shop and queue to buy your takeaway but you can order and pay online and have it delivered. We decided to try this out and ordered food for our tea on Sunday. It was delivered 20 mins after ordering and there was only a small cost of less than £3 for the delivery. The delivery driver knocked on the door, put our food in the porch and left before we opened the door. To protect ourselves we washed our hands before eating the food and after eating and putting the wrappers in the bin. You just cannot be too careful these days as the virus can survive on various materials.

Although there is more I could say about the weekend I am not going to as this entry is already quite long. I will write more about my thoughts over the next week as there is much I want to record and comment on.

Oh and the knitting?
I have finished the back and one sleeve. On Monday I will start the second sleeve, and hope to have finished it and the bands, and sewn it together before the end of the week – that is if I don’t run out of wool as it is getting very low, and of course I can’t just pop to the shop to buy more. No knitting photo today – will post when it is finished (if I get the wool).

For today a photo of me on my bike on Saturday. I am trying to increase my physical ability as I have discovered to my surprise that I can just about balance on a bike, although getting on and off it and pedalling is very difficult. At the moment I can ride for about 10 mins – just up and down outside my house, and when no one else out in the street.

Day Eight
Monday 23rd March
Today I move into week 2 of my self-isolation, the thought that this is going to continue for many more weeks is a scary thought. However myself and my immediate family of husband and grandson are sort of settling into the new routines. I will write a bit more about this further into this diary entry.

First though I want to talk about a delicate subject – that of personal emotions in these difficult times. I think it is a delicate subject because no one wants to admit they have had an emotional wobble and that includes me. I have not been entirely honest in my diary entries, I have hinted a couple of times that things have not gone as well as I hoped, but I have not gone into details because of embarrassment.

Now because I realise more people are now self-isolating or just staying at home through choice or government directive, I am going to be 100% truthful in the hope it will help others as they start their self-isolation / extended time at home with loved ones.
At the beginning of the week I was scared for health reasons, I was trying to work out how we would get through this. I was not sleeping well and so was tired and easy to tears. I found I was short tempered and snapped at my loved ones, which was not the best thing to do as they were also not sleeping well and had their own worries. 

I started to walk away – out of the room to my bedroom or the bathroom. I found the bathroom a good place as I could lock the door and cry or mutter to myself. It gave me time to think things through and decide on my response.

You may remember reading about my grandson not getting up until lunchtime early on in the week, and that I wrote about giving him time to adjust, but what I didn’t say was that Garry was struggling with this and it was annoying him that our grandson was staying in bed so late. This meant when our grandson did get up, Garry was a bit wound up and this showed in the way he spoke to our grandson. I do take some responsibility for this because I had not discussed our grandsons routines and needs in advance, so Garry had no idea what I was thinking in relation to this.

One of the things I found myself doing was trying to do everything to avoid conflict – so more household tasks than I am capable of doing; doing tasks that are usually the responsibility of others such as tidying my grandsons room or emptying bins (not usually my job because too heavy for me and difficult for me to take outside due to my physical difficulties) but I was doing these extra tasks and I suppose I was trying to protect them by removing tasks (and the resulting annoyance when the tasks not done) so they could adjust to the situation. All that happened was I was even more tired and therefore drained and emotional.

As the week progressed, I became much better at following my own advice, but I had not predicted an emotional breakdown! This started on Thursday and continued into Friday. I felt depressed and out of control of things, each day more and more restrictions were being put into place by government – don’t get me wrong I completely agree that government have to do this – but my choices were being removed, and I felt more and more trapped with no end in sight. I cried a lot for no apparent reason, I could not motivate myself and did not bother with things I could do – such as the puzzle I am currently working on. I ate more often and the wrong things. All of this is perfectly normal but I was surprised at how much I was affected.

I have got through the first week, partly because of my own personality, partly because of knowledge gained in my professional career and through my volunteering, but also partly from learning from my current experience. Each of us will have a different skill set to draw on, each of us will have different aspects we need to learn about, but we can help and support each other, and we can be kind in our words and actions.

So to continue with talking about Monday. I did not feel well as issues with my health, and in fact was up at 3am but made the sensible decision to go back to bed for a nap just after breakfast time – and felt a bit better, although I stayed in my PJ’s until lunchtime. Garry went out on his own to do our weekly shop, he reported that the supermarket was quiet at 8am (not special opening times and we often shop at this time), he managed to get most things we needed with the exception of toilet rolls and hand wash but as we have enough for this week, no panic yet. He reported some other customers moaning and taking it out on the supermarket staff; some customers observing the 2 meter rule but some not bothering including a chap who thought the 2 meter distance between Garry and the next customer meant he could fill that space for his shopping on the conveyor belt. He also reported that the supermarket staff had no protection items which seems silly as staff touching items customers have touched and customers touching stuff the staff have touched.

Our grandson got up slightly later than asked to but he did do his 2 x 45 min sessions of work set by school. He had difficulties as did not have the resources needed such as links to Utube clips or the cards used in classroom discussions. I provided support but even I struggle to make sense of the task set. It seems all school have done is send the worksheets used in class after input sessions. School have also not yet sent the password for online English and Maths. I know from my daughters that other schools that their children attend are much better organised. Still we did our best and at least my grandson spent some time engaged in school work. He also spent some time cleaning his bike, and supporting me in a bike ride by riding alongside me. With his support I managed (only just) to ride to the bottom of our road and back up the hill to our house. It was very hard work for me but I was proud of myself for achieving this goal. I went onto next doors drive – the neighbour I have been visiting every week for 18m, I had already text her several texts during the day as she lives alone, but thought I would apply the social distances rule and stand on her drive for a quick chat. She had been watching out of her window and had seen me on my bike, and so came to her door. We stood the 2 meters apart her on her front door step and me on her drive. We chatted for about 10 mins, and debated if I took my own chair and my own coffee (so we did not touch each other or anything the other person had touched) if we could on nice days sit on her drive for a chat and to support our mental wellbeing.

Garry and I watched another Morse DVD and stayed up for the evening news so we could find out what the government were doing now. It saddened me (as was discussed in my weekend diary entry) how the actions of some were now impacting on us all. To me the STAY AT HOME message is straight forward but I know others are confused as family members were saying their employees were not sure what to do – some were told to stay home until told otherwise, but some were not told anything and so assuming they had to go to work.

I had also noticed comments on social media around confusion about keyworker children and if should be attending school / nursery / childminder – and even if one child could attend say a childminder and then took by the childminder to a school.

Personally I think the government now needs to urgently say who should be going to work and who should not, which keyworkers children should attend a setting and which one. In my opinion childminders should not be working from their homes but instead should be working in partnership with their local school to provide both wrap around care and care for under 5’s thus limiting movement by parents and children and keeping the virus out of family homes as much as possible through hand washing and changing clothes when leave work. I also think government should say it is only the children who have both parents as keyworkers attend settings / school as this would be the safest option for everyone.

I know a lot of childminders and other self-employed people are very worried about their financial situation and I wish the government would announce the support package for them to provide reassurance and reduce stress.

As Monday came to an end, we had news that 2 family members could have COVID-19, mild at the moment and as both family members are young and fit hopefully will remain that way. Worrying for our family, but listening to government predictions I think many of us will have cases in the family, I just hope that most of us do not have deaths in the family.

Tomorrow is another day, the weather forecast looks good so this should help lift our spirits especially if we are able to get out in our garden or go for our one permitted walk / bike ride / exercise outing.

Day 9
Tuesday 24th March
Today I feel pretty low, my health conditions are causing me more difficulties than usual, and I am struggling to motivate myself especially considering the restrictions caused by my poor physical ability.

Trying to be positive I have started to try to read one of the books lent to me by my neighbour. I find reading difficult not only because of my dyslexia but because I have an issue with being able to scan with my eyes – so a line of print, the spines of books or DVD or Cd’s on a shelf – I just can’t do it – and it includes reading back these diary entries. I have to break it down into small stages a few lines at a time, which means reading a novel is hard work and difficult to follow the plot or become engrossed in (it also explains why most of the academic books on my bookshelf remain unread).

Anyway I am not one to give up, and usually find ways around my difficulties to enable me to at least ‘have a go’. I think with the current pandemic we are all going to need a positive attitude as we find ways around things. Getting back to the book, it is a fairly easy read and the print is fairly large, and so I am trying the tactic of reading a few pages at a time, then taking a short break from reading, before reading a few more pages. This helps keep the story line ‘alive’ in my head, and so I can continue reading without too many problems, and managed to read 3 chapters in the morning. I am enjoying handling books again, as in recent months I had switch to audio books which I enjoy but there is something special about reading an actual book.

I had hoped to go out into the garden for morning coffee but although it was sunny it was not very warm. so not good for sitting still. On previous days we have sat in the conservatory but today we tried something new – we took our coffee into our motorhome which is parked on our drive somewhat redundant. It made a change and even Max the dog joined us – just for 40 mins but it broke up the morning.

Our grandson was up more or less on time but experience problems with the work set by school. He was becoming anxious and saying what is the point in trying because without the resources to support the work he will not put the right answers and would ‘fail’. I find it very sad that the school system has created this attitude in young people – that of thinking if can’t pass then not worth even trying. In my opinion there should be more to education, include a desire to learn, to explore, to find out, to learn from experience, to be creative and much more. So I had a little chat with him about the fact that in real terms he has left his school and won’t be returning due to coronavirus, and the most important thing was his future and his aim to go to college. My grandson has missed a lot of school over the years due to his additional needs and so was not down to take GCSE’s this summer. He has a lot of catching up to do, and a lot of support will be needed to motivate him, so I suggested he concentrate on his English and Maths skills (which he can do online once he can access it) and although he should do as much as he can with the other work sent home, he should not worry if he could not complete it. I explain that his attitude to learning was important, his willingness to try was important but that getting it right was not important. I further explained the school would be asked to comment on the above things by the college, so it was important to keep trying. In his case grades or success at tests were not vital – what was important was his potential through the right attitude to do well at college. He seemed reassured and we then had a discussion about how he could help himself through self study, through educational activities not linked to worksheets. He asked if helping grandad fix the generator would be educational, I confirm it would and so after tidying his room, that is what he did – and between them they got the generator going. His physical exercise was a bike ride. We spent some time trying to access the online stuff from school, but in the end decided to call it a day with a promise to ourselves that we try again tomorrow.

I had my usual lunchtime nap but on waking did not feel much better. I sent texts and messages to friends and colleagues to check they are OK and to stay in touch. I think staying in touch is so important and was pleased that almost all of them replied to me.

Garry has occupied himself with some gardening, helping our grandson mend the generator and operating his train layout in the spare room, but I was at a bit of a loose end as still not feeling that great.

As my condition is not contagious I decided to text my neighbour (the one I have visited every week for 18 months, including last week) to see if she wanted to try our idea of coffee together from a distance. She did.

It took some thinking about, but in the end Garry carried my garden chair onto her drive making sure he kept 2 metres from her (and from another neighbour who was doing some work on his drive. I made my own coffee and once Garry had left my neighbours drive (so no more than 2 people together) I took the coffee and my own biscuits next door, and sat on my own chair. We made sure we did not touch each other or anything that belonged to the other person.

By sitting outside I did not need to touch her door handles or anything else in her home. Keeping the required distance between us, we chatted away and it certainly lifted my spirits. The neighbour working on his drive had a quick chat with Garry who was on our drive, before he went in. Another neighbour from across the road, crossed the road but stayed at least 4 meters away on edge of path to asked if I and my neighbour were OK and to remind us if we needed anything to contact her, as although now working from home most of the time she was able to collect essential supplies for us. We will have to consider carefully if we have coffee at a distance next week, and will take on board any future guidance or rules from the government.

I then spent time posting stuff in my Facebook group; I have noticed a huge increase in members and so I am trying to provide the information they need, plus ideas for things to do with children of all ages. I have not been on Twitter as much as usual, but I did add a couple of tweets and retweet a few things from other people.

Time was spent watching the Prime Minister briefing (but this time not with him personally) It was the first briefing with reporters taking part via video link, and I wonder if when this is all over we will go back to the old format as video links are safer and cheaper to organise than getting a lot of people to same venue at the same time. I can’t help thinking that as we come up with solutions during this pandemic that things may never be quite the same again.

I also did some knitting, finishing the second sleeve and being grateful that I just about had enough wool, as the button bands will be knitted in the contrast colour used for the ribbing.

No DVD tonight as went to bed a bit earlier

Day Ten
Wednesday 25th March
Another day of not feeling great – just my usual health conditions and not anything that would suggest coronavirus. However, not feeling great does impact on my ability to be active (at my level) and to be positive. I am also a bit grumpy and have less patience than usual. This impacts on my husband and grandson – so something else for everyone to think about, because if you are the keyperson that either organises and actually does most of the tasks then if you become ill with an everyday illness your household could become dysfunctional, which would not be life threatening but if you did get coronavirus the infected person would need to isolate themselves from the rest of the family (as could be a life threatening situation for some) and they would not only have to manage by themselves but also ensure your basic needs are met – from a distance.

I found I could not concentrate on tasks today but there was one thing I was determined to do! I had arranged with two friends to start a weekly video call, and today was the first call. I am not very good at such things, but really wanted to overcome my fears, so I messaged my friends and informed then I was not feeling well but would go ahead with the call. At 10.30 my phone rang and I was able to see and hear both of my friends, I chatted for around 10 mins but as I was tiring I decided to say my goodbyes – but not before we had agreed to another call at same time next week. I now need to try and set up video calls with other friends and family.

As it was sunny and quite warm in the garden, Garry and I decided to have our coffee in the garden for the first time this year, it was lovely listening to the birds and looking at the spring flowers. We discussed our plans for the future development of the garden, as in these worrying times we feel it is important to have plans for the future even if they need to be put on hold. Certainly we are not sure if our garden plans can happen yet due to restricted opportunities to buy things.
Our grandson set off on a bike ride promising to avoid other people as much as possible by using routes not used by many. While he was out, his school phoned for an update as to how he was doing. I was honest and said he was fine and doing some educational activities but that he was reluctant to settle to the worksheet activities as he did not have the resources mentioned on the worksheets (normally available at school). It was agreed that his focus should be on the Maths and English, so I promised I would get him to login online today.

After lunch and watching the lunch time news (I still find myself drawn to the news programmes) I spoke to our grandson about logging in and reminded him I had printed the details of login and password for him. I then went up for my nap, read a few more pages of the book I started yesterday, then slept for about an hour – waking in pain.

Once downstairs, my grandson reported he had been unable to login to do the Maths and English so I tried and I could not log him in either, so email sent to school. I set grandson a paper based task connected to his catering course.

Most of the rest of the day was spent sat in my chair doing nothing much as I could not knit or read. I did not feel like watching TV either, but as is now the norm I watched the Prime Minister briefing. I actually like the new format of having a few reporters selected to ask questions remotely as is more organised and you get to have more detailed answers. Today there were 3 main topics of focus: 

  1. the testing
  2. construction workers
  3. support for self employed.

With the testing this is something I think is important especially as I have two family members who might have coronavirus. They have mild symptoms but are self isolating and have support of friends who are dropping food and essential items to their door, but it would be nice to know if they have it, and more importantly in my opinion to test to see if they have had it I do understand the issues of the supply chain and just hope we have the tests available soon – particularly for all those who are still working like NHS/ supermarket staff / care home staff/ police/ education people – and all the others who are putting society needs before their own. With construction workers I think all but essential building work should be stopped. I can understand the economic point and the fact that it might be easier to get on with projects while there is less traffic / people but it is hard to maintain social distancing on a construction site and each of those construction workers has to make a journey to the site each day and to return home at night thus potentially putting lots of other people at risk. In terms of help for the self employed, including all my childminder colleagues, I can understand the challenges of working out a fair system but help is urgently needed as many have no income at all, and living on savings or credit cards.

My final comment for today is about the divide of people – those who want to do everything they can to help society by following the rules by staying at home, and by volunteering; and those who only think of themselves by hoarding, or scamming others, or not respecting social distances. I am grateful that those doing all they can to help far outnumber those who don’t, but I am greatly saddened that some just don’t care about others.

No photo today as no knitting, no walk with the rollator and no bike ride – in general a difficult day for me but I am keeping going, trying to be as positive as possible – and we all need to do this on our personally difficult days for our own wellbeing – and to have hope that tomorrow will be a better day – and that we will get through this.

Day Eleven
Thursday 26th March
We are settling into our new routines a bit more now and know what we can and we can’t do. We are less anxious about daily things and yet more anxious about long term issues. Somethings do surprise us, such as today our grandson ‘fiddled’ with his bike after his daily ride because he thought the suspension was not quite ‘right’. Unfortunately he lacks the skills and experience to do this and so caused the suspension to be completely deflated. We had not realised that it would be near impossible to fix this as we do not have the right equipment and the shops that sell the equipment (a type of pump) are closed. We may be able to buy what we need online but there will be a delay before we get it which means our grandson will not be able to go for his daily bike ride for a few days.

My day was spent feeling ill again, I managed over the day to fit a few more pieces to the puzzle I am working on. I can only stand and do the puzzle for about 10 mins at a time, so progress is slow. On the positive though I am once again motivated to try because in the past few days I was not motivated at all. I also did a bit of knitting and started the button bands, to aid my measuring of how long the bands needed to be, I decided to sew the jumper together. This proved to be very difficult and in my current weakened state I could not pull the sewing needle through the wool. Garry came to my rescue and gave me a pair of pillars to use in pulling the needle through. This worked but progress is very slow, and by the end of the day I still had not finished the task. The rest of the day was spent sat in my chair or lying on my bed as I felt so dreadful, although while doing so I read a few more pages of my book.

However there was a highlight to my day – something I really valued. Juls from EY Matters phoned me for a chat, I missed her call but phoned her back as soon as I could. It was so lovely to hear her voice. I have been communicating by email just about every day because of course I have been sending in these diary entries, but as Juls so rightly said it is so lovely to actually hear another human voice – especially when you are self isolating as we both are. We spoke about our sadness of not being able to see our parents or grandchildren but agreed it was vitally important that we complied with government advice and did our bit to ‘flatten the curve’, as well as protect ourselves. We only chatted for 10 – 15 mins because even a short chat tires me, but we plan to try to chat in person when we can.

As already mentioned our grandson went for his now daily bike ride, when he got back we extended this into a mini geography lesson as he was not sure where he had gone, as he had just followed bridle paths and quiet country roads which tended not to have road signs. So with the help of Google maps he retraced his route and found out what some of the roads were called and where he had ended up. He was surprised to find his end point was in fact very near a garden centre where we sometimes go – even though he had travelled on a totally different route.

Today he managed to log on to the schools online Maths and English as they had emailed an updated password. He also had an email informing him that his postponed college interview would take place on Monday afternoon by telephone call. Although he would prefer a face to face interview, he was please it was going ahead by phone, and hopeful he would gain a place.

Garry kept himself busy by deciding to make major alterations to his train layout in the spare bedroom. He has not been over happy with it since he finished it, as a few problems he had not anticipated cropped up. The alterations included cutting two holes in my airing cupboard and changing the shelves. By the end of the day, I had trains entering one side of the airing cupboard and leaving on the right angle side. Garry now has a lot more work to do in making the holes cut in the airing cupboard walls into tunnels and moving quite a lot of buildings and scenery. I am sure it will be worth it in the end, and in the meantime it is keeping him busy. Mind you also causing some frustrations as he can’t just pop to our local train shop to buy extra track or other things he needs. He can get by mail order but will have to wait for delivery.

And so the day passed in the new rhythm of things, each of us doing our ‘own thing’ for most of the day but coming together for meals – and of course to watch the Downing Street briefing. The main interest to me today was the help for the self employed including all my childminding colleagues who I know have been very anxious since they were told to shut their settings / cut their numbers to only look after the children of keyworkers. I think in the circumstances the package on offer is fair and will help most self employed people. I can see some will not get help and some will be disadvantaged – these include those that have only just started self employment and those who have only been self employed for a year or two. I know from experience that newly registered childminders will have high set up costs and low income to start with (may be for over a year) and so their average profit figure could be lower than their actual profit in 2019, but as with all things it is very hard to have a scheme that fits everyone’s needs perfectly. I think in general most self employed people including childminders will be relieved and although some will be wondering how they will pay their bills until June when they will get a lump sum payment to cover March – June, they can be reassured that they will eventually get some help.

Having had times when Garry has been made redundant and indeed one occasion when neither of us were working; and our current situation where we have to live on disability benefits and very small private pension, we know that it is hard but you can survive. Here are some of my top tips for Finance: 

I personally missed the 8pm clapping for the NHS – not because I don’t care or didn’t want to show my appreciation but because I was ready for bed before 8pm, as is often the case.

Day Twelve
Friday 27th March
For many today is just another day but for some it is a special day, including my friend Sue celebrating her wedding anniversary and our grandson celebrating his 16th birthday. However all of those with special days have had to cancel or at the very least postpone their celebrations, as we have had to do in our family – First our granddaughter’s second birthday on 18th March and now our grandson’s 16th birthday – and over the next couple of months we have a lot more family birthday’s coming up including a couple of special ones where normally we would do something special as a family, but now of course we can’t even see each other. Others are facing even more distressing situations – those who had booked a ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday, or a wedding. Holidays have all been cancelled, weddings are either being cancelled or going ahead with just the Bride, the Groom and 2 witnesses; I cannot image how people are feeling who had planned a huge event, and looked forward to it for a year or more and now face time in self isolation / doing nothing to celebrate.

It was with these thoughts in my mind that I decided to try to make my grandson’s birthday a positive occasion. He had already had his main birthday present – a much wanted specialist bike. The reason he had already had was because we are not in a position to buy such a specialist bike brand new, and so Garry had spent weeks looking for a second hand one. Eventually he found one, and quite local to us, but it meant our grandson had to view it to make sure it was what he wanted and indeed fitted him. Thankfully he liked it and it fitted so we brought it, but thought there was no point in not letting our grandson ride it before his birthday – it is a sobering thought that if we had not found this bike when we did, we would not have been successful in getting the main present. As it was due to our self isolation and only doing essential shopping for almost 2 weeks, we had not brought a card or a small present to open on the day – and although not my fault, I felt guilty.

Then I remembered I had a stash of small bags of iced party rings hidden; they were hidden because our grandson loves these biscuits but these ones had been brought for when our younger grandchildren visit. I decided that as due to self isolation our other grandchildren would not be visiting for quite a while that I could use them and buy more at a later date. So I wrapped the bags of party rings using my stock of wrapping paper (having 11 grandchildren it is often someone’s birthday, so pays to ‘bulk buy’), I then search my stock of birthday cards thinking the best I could do would be a flower or a dog card but to my surprised I found a lovely card which said ‘To a great grandson’ on the front – perfect. So card and small present sorted. I had already discussed birthday cake with our grandson and he had told me he did not like sponge cake much, so not to buy or make a birthday cake. I had thought I would buy him a couple of Greg’s Belgium buns which he is particularly fond of – but of course now not possible due to Government restrictions around which shops could open. I looked in my store cupboards for inspiration and realised I had one bar of value chocolate and some chocolate krispies; and enough syrup and porridge oats to make some flapjack. Perfect as my grandson likes both of these, and so at 4.30am I set about making these birthday treats.

As it was his birthday I had told our grandson that he did not have to get up at 9am and he did not have to do any school work today. He did not get up until lunchtime, but when he did I sang Happy Birthday and he opened his card and unusual gifts. He was pleased with the edible items and offered me some. He spent the day at home playing on the Xbox – and just for today I did not remind him about screen time. He had a few online birthday wishes and his teachers from school had sent a recording of them singing Happy Birthday via a video recording at their virtual school team meeting. People are being inventive during these difficult times.

Garry spent most his time continuing to work on his redesigned train layout, but he also cooked a full roast dinner in honour of the birthday boy.

I continue to feel unwell, and admit I am getting fed up with it now; I am used to not feeling well and to being in pain but since Saturday everything including my physical ability has been much worse – and it is getting me down. I am trying to be positive for the benefit of my household and others (including my social media contacts) but in private I am crying or moaning to myself.

Of course I watched the Downing Street briefing and it was confirmed that the information I had read about the Prime Minister and others now do have coronavirus. There were the usual questions from the media around government plans, and some concerns about how they have dealt with the pandemic. In my opinion this is all so new, and moving so fast, I don’t think anyone can fully predict how it will unfold and so all any of us can do is follow the advice of the medics and scientists.

Today I want to comment on the response to the call for NHS volunteers who will carry out a number of tasks to support others such as doing shopping for the vulnerable, collect prescriptions and make phone calls to those who are isolated. I applaud all those who have volunteered. In 2018 at a conference I organised I mentioned that in the future people would be defined by their volunteering. Of course I had no idea what the future held, and had no idea that a pandemic would the reason that volunteering would be so essential but I do know from personal experience that volunteering is a positive experience for the person doing the volunteering. I am a life long volunteer and in 2016 I was awarded a British Empire Medal for my volunteering within Children’s Services but since becoming ill my volunteering has more or less stopped. I do write occasional articles on a volunteer basis and I run a Facebook group for childcare professionals which does not benefit me in anyway. I am able to do these things because I can do as and when I am able – and if having a bad day, I just don’t do anything. To volunteer to help with NHS Volunteers I would need to be reliable and they say healthy – sadly I am neither of these things and to be fair to myself this is why I am on disability benefits. I don’t like being on disability benefits, and I don’t like not being able to volunteer – it goes completely against who I am – I have always worked and I have always volunteered. Still no good moaning about the facts, it won’t change things.

So I will continue to write these diary entries which I do on a volunteer basis, Juls of EY Matters who is publishing them does not put any pressure on me at all. I decide how long each entry is, how often I write them, and I know if I am too poorly on any day to write at all, it really is not important in the grand scheme of things. I just hope that as well as giving me a personal focus, as well as leaving a record of my thoughts that family may appreciate when I have left this world; that expressing my thoughts and feelings, and recording my everyday experiences will in some way help others with the situation they find themselves in – including gaining an understanding that we will all struggle at times; will all feel it is an unfair world; all have really bad days where we can’t help crying or being angry (or whatever our base emotion is) and all find ways to cope.

My final comment is around the issue of death and all those who have lost loved ones already, as no matter how bad our personal situation is, nothing is as bad as losing a loved one to coronavirus because you are unable to be with them in the hospital or in their final hours, nor are you able to have a funeral with family members present.

So let’s be grateful for what we have, and make the most of what we can do, rather than moaning about what we can’t do and where we can’t go. Having a positive attitude will help us get through this together.

Days Thirteen and Fourteen
28th and 29th March
Second weekend of my self isolation, and so as last week I am combining my diary entries to help highlight the passing of days by doing things differently. Although my household is now settled into our new routines this is not to say we are liking it or getting it right!

Over the weekend it has become clear that we have not got it right around the issue of shopping. As regular readers of my diary entries will know Garry has being doing the shopping because it is too risky for me, and although he has not been able to purchase everything we need, he has brought most of the essentials. Like most of the rest of the country, we try to follow Government advice because we both think it is essential we comply with it for our own sake, and the sake of society. Therefore we made the decision to only shop once a week and because in the ‘old world’ we generally did our main shop on a Monday, we would make Monday our dedicated shopping day. Easy to say, but like many we had got used to being able to shop when we wanted to, and had got into the habit of doing top up shops several times a week – so the things we forgot, things we desired as a treat or even just a change of menu (we did not waste food but sometimes we forgot to get things out of the freezer or went out so did not have time to cook the planned meal). Within popping out for top up shopping I include take ways, or coffee and cake / lunch out. Of course we cannot pop out for coffee or lunch and this has impacted on the number of things we need to buy within our weekly shop, and we thought we had planned fairly well – but as mentioned we had not got it right. Over the weekend we ran out of what I call ‘treat things’, so snacks for our grandson – he has a snack box and it was empty; I have a chocolate basket and it was empty; we have a cupboard where we keep biscuits and cakes – the cakes ran out and we were down to a packet of Rich Tea biscuits! None of these things are of course life threatening and we certainly won’t starve but in stressful times, we like many others attempt to cheer ourselves through indulging in treats. Over the 3 years that I have been ill I have used the treat of going out for coffee and cake with friends and family members to support my mental well being, and because I now can’t do this, and I can’t go out for a drive or even a decent walk, I am reaching for the treats.

To be clear I am not complaining as compared to many we are lucky, and I am a firm believer in ‘making the most of things’, we have not and will not stock pile things / buy more than we need for each week, but when Garry goes shopping on Monday he will try to buy a few more treat things – and if he can’t then we are at least forewarned and will have to stretch whatever he can buy over the week.

I do try to be positive, and readers will know that on Friday I raided my store cupboard to find things to cook as treats for our grandson’s birthday; On Sunday I found enough items to make some muffins with sultana’s and mixed spice in them. These were very nice and we had some with our morning and afternoon drink – and a few left for Monday. However my store cupboard is now almost empty of cake making things, I hope Garry will be able to replenish the store cupboard things, but if he can’t we will go without.

The whole weekend was fairly uneventful, however a couple of things to pick up on. In an attempt to stay in touch with family members three of my granddaughters (the 2 x five year olds and the almost 8 year old) now have email addresses and I have exchanged emails with them, I will try to email at least once a week and we are going to plan a celebratory ‘Cake and Craft with Granny’ event for when this is over. Over the last couple of years I have done this a few times and they have been a huge success. One granddaughter has already put in a request for chocolate krispie cakes – and I am sure our plans will include these and other favourite treats, as well as a range of craft activities. I am really missing spending time with the grandchildren, especially those I see regularly during ‘normal times’ – the one we usually look after during school holidays and after school twice a week; the two who take turns to come for a stay over once a month to do crafts with Granny; the one who used to stay with us 3 days a week; the one who would meet us for coffee; the one who shared a café drink and snack with me and her mum. I miss them all and looking forward to the day when this is all over and we can see each other again.

As well as the grandchildren, parents are a worry, both my parents are in their 80’s, they now live alone (not with each other). My mum lives in Devon we don’t see her often but had planned a trip for April which is now cancelled, so our only contact is by phone. My Dad lives more locally and we used to see him more often, but not at all now, so I phone but he does not hear that well. I think I may need to start writing letters or maybe emails – at least that way could include photos. Something to think about.

This weekend I have continued to feel unwell and so have not been very active, still no further walks with my rollator or short rides to end of road on my bike but I have started to get on with puzzle as can be seen in photo below – and I did send a text to my neighbour to tell her to stand at her front door, as I was on her drive with something to show her. That something was the finished V neck cardigan – which you can see in second photo. It is size 3 – 6m and so (fingers crossed) will fit baby during colder weather.

I am now starting a grey hat to go with the cardigan and a snowsuit my daughter has brought ready for next autumn / winter.

Days Fifteen and Sixteen
30th and 31st March
One of the things I have mentioned several times is the need for routine and the need to mark the difference between days and weeks; and yet here I am writing a diary entry that covers two days when it is not actually a weekend.

The reason for this is because my health has been worse than usual. I have not had the strength to write my entry or in fact do anything much on Monday or Tuesday. Therefore I have applied my own advice and adapted my plans – plus I was not ‘hard’ on myself and just went with the flow.

Writing my diary entry comes under the not important and does not have to be done every day. I do like having a routine, and I do like having a sense of purpose, and I do like trying to support others in a volunteer role – and I certainly like it when (as has happened over the last week) people get in touch to tell me they are enjoying reading my diary entries and find them supportive BUT I don’t have to write them every day.

Another aspect I have to consider is my ongoing health issues and I need to make sure at all times to listen to my body and to consider the balance between my physical health and my mental wellbeing. This is something I have had to do over the 3 years I have been ill, but I am guessing for many this is a new consideration and something they will find hard to do, especially as some will be following advice to STAY AT HOME, and others will be continuing to work in essential services. For both groups of people good physical and mental is going to vital if we are to get through this.

With the above tip in mind, I have ‘stepped back’ in terms of trying to support my grandson with his educationally activities. I have now had a chat with him about his future (which was hard because like many young people his world has been tipped upside down, and he can’t see a positive future for himself at the moment), and tried to get him to understand that he can use this time to support his education and to fill the gaps / move forward. As I have said before he has not had a good educational journey due to his additional needs, and has a lot of catching up to do, particularly in the key areas of Maths and English. However I am not insisting he sits down to do his online learning because I know his anxieties are very high and while this is the case he will not be able to take on board anything. Instead on Tuesday I asked him to write down his own routine including the basics of when he gets up, eats and goes to bed, plus an outline for when he will tidy his room, go for his daily exercise and do educational activities – not just online things but also hands on things like using his weights, doing cooking, helping grandad, playing his guitar and so on. I hope this will help support him to get through this difficult time.

While on the subject of my grandson, his school has been phoning regularly, sometimes to talk to myself or to Garry, and sometimes to talk to him. I think it is important schools do keep in touch in whatever way they can, as it is a reminder that the child or young person is still part of the school community and is remembered. I am being totally honest with my grandson’s school and so they know he is struggling to engage – and totally understand and agree with gentle encouragement rather than threats or punishment.

One of the communications we had with our grandson’s school was around his next steps in terms of college. Before Coronavirus we had plans to attend a college open day (we had already visited one which our grandson did not like), and he had an appointment for an interview for a course he was interested in. Of course both of these things were cancelled, but with the support of school a telephone interview was arranged. This took place on Monday and was successful, with the person from college doing the interview saying she would be happy to offer him a place, although they still had to confirm once all the paperwork process had been completed. So some hope for our grandson that his plans to start college are still possible, even if no one is sure when he will be able to start. Hopefully other colleges (and schools for the younger children) will be able to be inventive in how they enrol new pupils.

Over the last 2 days I have continued to watch the Downing Street briefings, and like many I am devastated at the number of deaths and really concerned by statements such as ‘if we keep below 20,000 deaths we will have done well’. To me 20.000 deaths is a terrible number and I worry about if family members or friends will be within this number, and I worry about the impact on us all.

On Tuesday news started to become public knowledge about the impact on charities and that some may not survive. The impact on many from this is hard to even think about; For people like me the charity shops help me recycle things and also provide a way to stretch our limited budget a bit further; For others though it will mean a reduction in support and services that cannot get elsewhere; For all of us it will mean less research into things like cancer or diabetes. I hope the Government will be able to step in, to support their ongoing costs so that they can survive and once this is over pick up the pieces and return to what they do well – supporting others.

There is more I could say on a number of subjects, but I am going to be kind to myself and not comment as I am still not feeling well and so need to rest.

I would like to finish on a positive note. On Monday Garry did our now once a week food shop, he reported things were better managed than last week in terms of number of people in the shop and queues at checkouts. He managed to get most of the things we needed, including a pack of toilet rolls and some bars of hard soap. So fingers crossed things are starting to improve shopping wise. I hope we will start to see improvements in control of the virus.

Remember we can all do our bit to help by STAYING AT HOME and when we have to go out by KEEPING TO SOCIAL DISTANCING

Days Seventeen and Eighteen
1st and 2nd April
As you will know my health has been more challenging than usual and I have been struggling with physical activity. Over the last few days I have come to realise that I am just not coping, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Readers will be aware that I tried to give myself a bit of a break by combining Monday and Tuesday diary entries, but this has proved not to be enough and so I did not resume daily blogs on Wednesday.

I suppose I should not be surprised as I have been very ill for so long and I know everything exhausts me, and that I need a lunchtime nap just about every day. However I wanted to record my actions, feelings and thoughts during my self isolation as I wanted to provide a record for family members, plus support for anyone else going through self isolation or facing changes such as children not being in school or work being closed. Never before has everyone had such huge changes to our daily lives, and I wanted to do my best to record things and comment on the ever changing situation.

Things started to come to a head on Wednesday and deteriorated on Thursday. I found I could not concentrate, small things reduced me to tears and I was unable to do things I was able to do last week; my pain was extreme – far worse than it has been in recent months. As it happens at the same time I was having a lot of emails, phone calls and forms to complete in relation to our grandson (mentioned below) and I was trying to support my daughter and colleagues by sewing together some clothes wash bags for their uniforms so they can change after their shift at the care home where they work.
I finally had the ‘light bulb moment’ that something had to change when the sewing machine came unthreaded and no other words for it – I completely lost it.

So I have decided I must stop trying to do so much, as I am just not well enough. Therefore my diary entries will be reduced – this one covers 2 days, the next one will cover Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After that I will start writing a weekly entry. I will also be reducing the tasks I do at home and practise saying a word I have always struggled with – ‘NO’.

However my reflections have not just been about myself, there have been about friends, families and colleagues. Many are telling me that they are tired, that they are struggling to manage their emotions and that things they used to do easily are now very difficult. People who have for years said ‘I will do that when I have time’ now have time but are not motivated to even start doing those things. Readers will have read that our grandson has been finding it hard to motivate himself and has been questioning if trying to do school work is worth the effort. In fact when watching the news on Wednesday he said ‘Why are people stressing about all this stuff? We are all going to die’ Maybe an over the top reaction but with the death figures rising and the number infected rising, it is easy to see why he thinks this.

So I think for the first week or two people put everything into coping and into dealing with the challenges we are all facing, but then after a couple of weeks they literally run out of steam – their ‘get up and go’ has got up and left. Emotions are getting the better of people in general, I know I am not the only person to have ‘lost it’ – some will cry like I do and become depressed and feel cross with themselves for not coping; Others will try to put their head in the sand and ignore the issues by shutting themselves in their rooms or going out and ignoring the restrictions; Others will become angry and take it out on those around them or self harm. As a nation we are starting to crumble and the impact on our mental wellbeing will be huge especially in the long term.

Some of us (me included) will try to shield love ones from as much as they can, but this is doomed in the long term as no one can keep on putting on a brave face and continue to protect others as sooner or later they will reach the limit of what they can do.

I have mentioned the amount of tasks I have had to do in relation to my grandson. His school are very good at keeping in touch – in fact too good and they have overloaded me. Every day at least one member of staff phones to speak to me, Garry or our grandson – sometimes we get 2 phone calls. I also get emails – lots of them with ideas for routines, with work attached, with links to external websites. Plus this weeks, forms to fill in, his termly report – and although not from school they are included – his amended EHCP (needs amending due to coming to live with us in September and positives changes in that time). The EHCP on its own resulted in a couple of hours input and a phone call as so much was not correct.

However, I have now decided enough is enough and I have told school that it is too much both for myself and our grandson, and we have agreed on the most important tasks to concentrate on. School have agreed to reduce the number of emails and the overload of information. I will monitor this and if needed will speak to school again. I think it is important that we support our children and young people from overload, that we recognise the stress they are under, and the impact this has on them.

I end by sending my best wishes to all of you, and reminding you that whatever you do or don’t do in terms of tasks, please ensure you STAY AT HOME and if you have to go out that you practice SOCIAL DISTANCING.

The photo is of two of the clothes wash bags that I have made for my daughter and her colleagues. When they finish their shift in the care home, they will change their clothes and put their work uniform in the wash bag.  The bag with uniform in it will then be put straight into the washing machine.

Days Nineteen to Twenty-one
3rd - 5th April

Friday 3rd April
Another day of feeling pretty rubbish due to my health, and the news about the increased deaths from the virus and the increased number of cases only helped to bring my normally positive mood crashing down.

Watching the daily Downing Street briefing really brings it home just how big this all is and how serious it is – and yet in my local area some people are still not taking it seriously. The Police are reporting that there are still groups of teens gathering together and are appealing to parents to make sure their children stay at home.

As Granny to a couple of teens (including the one who lives with me) I know hard it is for them to change their routines and how difficult it is stop seeing friends, stop going out and stop all their activities including the sporting ones – but the teens in my family are doing so and understand why it is vital we all STAY AT HOME and when we go out we practice SOCIAL DISTANCING.

Only yesterday after his daily bike ride our grandson said he was concerned because he is now seeing even more people out and about, and although he feels safe on his bike as no need to touch anything that anyone else has touched, he worries someone may cough when he passes them, and so has decided to limit the distance of his bike rides and to try to find a quieter time to go out. He even thinks there may come a time when it will be safer not to go out at all.

I wish all young people were this sensible and understood the risk to themselves and others.

I am concerned about adults who think they need to go shopping on an almost daily basis to keep topped up, or to shop for others. It is great people are shopping for others and indeed Garry does that BUT he still only goes once a week and puts items for others in with our shopping. With Social Distancing the number of times you go out also increases the risk because you touch things that others have touched, and others touch things you have touched. The graphic which shows how if you stop going out it cuts down the number of other people you could infect is enlightening.

Good news for our Grandson! His place at college has been confirmed. He has also managed to get his head round some of the online Maths and made progress towards his qualification. On the downside he is staying in bed until the afternoon but as he is doing some schoolwork, I have decided does it matter when he does it? A call from school reminded me that in ‘normal times’ it would be the start of the school Easter holidays and that therefore his teachers would not be setting work or making phone calls. It made me realise how much has changed in such a short time and how on the whole we are adapting to these changes and so they are the new ‘norm’.

I have not managed to do much more knitting but I have finally finished the puzzle by doing a little bit (fitting a few pieces) throughout the day. I have to say it was one of the hardest puzzles I have done due to the number of odd shaped pieces.

Saturday 4th April
Today got off to a bad start as a disturbed night so wide awake and downstairs at 3am. Garry was also up which is unusual for him, it seems we are both having trouble going back to sleep when we wake as our minds start working and worrying about things. We had a hot drink and talked about a few of our worries, then Garry went back to bed, but I couldn’t because my pain was too bad. So I made a hot water bottle (heat does help with the pain) and dozed on and off in my chair for an hour before deciding I needed to move around a bit.

I decided 4.30am was a good time to make some banana flapjacks. Once it was cooked, I watched some TV and for a change not about coronavirus. It was about a man who is blind and hard of hearing but even so was travelling around the world on his own. Clearly filmed before Coronavirus brought the world to a virtual standstill, but was awe inspiring. Nothing was going to stop this man from travelling or from getting to know how the locals lived. It made me think of my own situation of poor health and the situation we all find ourselves in. I think having the right attitude and determination will ensure I make the most of what I can do – and will ensure we all get through the pandemic and then rebuild our lives.

I went back to bed around 8.30am as I felt so terrible – I slept for just over 2 hours, but did not get up straight away because was still feeling terrible. While I was in bed, Garry drove the few miles to our youngest daughter’s house, to deliver our granddaughters Easter eggs and some Easter Crafts however he did not go into the house – just left the items in a bag in the garden. We do not make a habit of visiting anyone especially not our youngest daughter because she is pregnant and so in the high risk group but we wanted our 5 year old granddaughter to have her Easter Eggs. Usually we stay in contact via messages and video calls. Some of our other local grandchildren had their Easter Eggs when we first self-isolated as our grandson who used to stay with us took them with him when he returned home. Luckily our grandchildren who do not live local to us were given their Easter Eggs when they visited at Feb half term – something I am grateful for as otherwise they would not had received them.

Some may wonder why I think it is so important that my grandchildren received their eggs – it is simple really, their lives have changed so much, there are not able to see their friends or family members, they can’t go to school or the park, so I think they need reassurance first that we are thinking of them and also that some things can still happen. Same with birthdays – so in a couple of weeks we will be dropping a bag onto the front doorstep of our granddaughter’s house for her 8th birthday. So not a regular occurrence dropping things to doorsteps but just for special occasions. We wish we could see them all, and hug them, but we can’t as we need to keep them and us safe.

I made some more pillowcases into wash bags for my daughter and her colleagues who work in a care home. This time I made 4 making 7 in total. My daughter tells me other people have made / promised to make some, and so they now have enough.

During the afternoon I had a ‘distance coffee’ with my neighbour, it has been nearly 2 weeks since our last one. I used to visit her every week in her home for coffee and a chat, and because she lives alone she looked forward to my visits. So as for the last distance coffee we met on her drive, Garry took my chair for me, I took my own coffee so that I did not touch anything of hers, and she did not touch anything of mine. We sat a good 2 metres apart and chatted. While chatting two other neighbours, returning from their daily walk, paused at the end of my neighbour's drive (a good 4 metres away) and had a quick chat saying there were a lot of other people out walking and they felt guilty for going for a walk but needed that once a day break as well as some exercise.

Our distance coffee lasted less than an hour but it did both me and my neighbour some good, lifting our spirits and supporting our wellbeing. I hope we will be able to have another distance coffee in the next week or so, but it will depend on if the Government impose any more restrictions.

The rest of the day was spent as it usually is, watching the Downing Street, having tea, and then watching a DVD.

Sunday 5th April
I slept a bit better and did not get up until almost 6am. I had had an idea during the night and wanted to try it out, so even before breakfast I got out my sewing machine and had a go at making some child sized face masks. After breakfast I made a prototype adult one for myself. I discovered that although I have a lot of Fat Quarters of cotton material, I do not have the other items required including elastic, which meant the face masks I made were not really suitable. I also discovered my sewing skills are not that great, so made a decision to go back to my knitting.

The rest of Sunday was a bit of a non-event; I started a new puzzle and continued with knitted a hat for the new baby. Our grandson did go for a bike ride but this time went on a different route and only saw a couple of other people. I worry about how much longer he will be able to do this because due to others not practicing social distancing it seems the Government may stop people going out for exercise which will be hard for all of those who are following the rules.

During the evening we had a worrying couple of hours as our youngest daughter messaged to say she had to go to the hospital as the unborn baby was not moving much. All was well as baby started being more active – although doctors were worried about a pain she was experiencing but not enough to keep her in hospital so she was allowed home.

Relief for us but it did highlight how things will be baby wise. Our daughter had to go on her own as only pregnant women allowed. As her husband does not drive he is then stranded at home with their daughter, which would cause problems if doctors kept her in. Other issues would be around care of their daughter when it is time for the birth as one partner is allowed at the birth which means we would have to break our self-isolation to care for her. Difficult to avoid this situation as the rules apply to everyone not just our daughter. We can only hope that baby goes full term and that the restrictions are relaxed a little by then.

Please everyone STAY HOME and if you have to go out practice SOCIAL DISTANCING as not only will you help the NHS and SAVE LIVES, you will help all of us get back to normal live as soon as possible.

Day 22
Monday 6th April
I had not seen the news yesterday evening and so this morning I was shocked to hear the Prime Minister was sent into hospital last night. It just shows this virus can be caught by anyone, and no one knows if they will get a mild dose or if will need hospital treatment.

Today was a day of visitors – No! Not as in coming into the house but by family dropping and picking things up from our porch. Our eldest grandson brought us a sack of potatoes and some chocolate treats for me – and took away a card for our eldest daughter’s birthday tomorrow (his mum).

Our youngest daughter and her daughter dropped off some shopping she had got for us with her online shopping, and picked up some things to mend their rabbit cage as the rabbits had eaten their way out of the cage. We opened the front window to have a brief chat, it was nice to see our daughter after the worry of last night about concerns for the wellbeing of her unborn son. It was also nice to see our 5 year old granddaughter as we are really missing seeing her on a regular basis. It was hard for her to understand that she had to keep a distance between us and she had to be reminded a couple of times to stand back. We did not prolong the visit to help keep us all safe.

Garry did the weekly shopping, I admit we are finding it hard only going shopping once a week (even with family helping by dropping things to our porch) as we are so used to shopping as and when we wanted to. By Sunday although we had run out of treat things we did still have essentials for our main meals, so the evidence is pointing to the fact that we are getting better at buying enough of the basics to last a whole week. When he returned Garry reached into the bag and pulled out not one but two bottles of hand wash! This was really good news as our supply from before coronavirus based difficulties had almost run out. However both bottles were not for us as we knew our youngest daughter had not been able to get any with her online shop, so one bottle was for her.

I think I should mention that when passing things to and from family, we are all very aware of the need for handwashing before and after touching things; and wiping of door handles, bags and as much as we can in order to keep us all safe.

The rest of the day passed by with us all doing our now normal routines, which of course included watching the Downing Street briefing. Today my attention was drawn to the number of deaths and the realisation that actually the awful total being talked about and showing on the screen were not up to date and did not include all the coronavirus deaths. Maybe I was not paying full attention previously (and I know the morphine I take does impact on my brain function), but I had not realised this before. The number of deaths shown for the UK are a day out, and it seems the figures are updated to 5pm the day before, but even those figures are not accurate as it takes various different times for the hospitals to report the deaths. In addition the figures only include hospital deaths and not those who have died at home or in a care home. So my horror at the increase in number of deaths, number of hospital admissions and number of new cases is sort of underestimated as the true figures are more than the numbers we are being told. Add to this the graphs we are shown about comparison with figures from around the world are even more complicated to understand due to different reporting, different time delays and different number of days since the virus hit that country. Sadly (in my opinion) it seems some countries are holding back information as their figures just don’t make sense,

I suppose I just have to accept that the information provided at the Downing Street briefings is the best that can be provided, but it does show how difficult it is for anyone including the Government to unpick the data and to work out if the curve is being flattened and if we are nearing the peak or not.

On the personal health front, I have been slightly better today although still struggling and I needed a 2 hour lunchtime nap. I think feeling so ill is making coping with self isolation harder for me. Normally even if not feeling that well, I would go out 2 or 3 times a week for coffee with friends and family but now all I can do most of the time is sit in my chair. I am hoping we will have some better weather soon so I can sit in the garden. Other family members are using the garden but at the moment it is just too cold to sit still.

Day 23
Tuesday 7th April
A rather surprising start to the day. Our grandson (who as you know from previous diary entries has not been getting up until lunch time or even later) was today up and dressed by 6.45. He was in a chatty mood and so chatted to me while I did a little bit of ironing. He told me he had decided not to go his bike ride anymore because it was too risky. However he realised if he got up early he could go a bike ride before most people got up. So he did! On his return he reported he had only seen 3 other people and had been able to avoid getting too close to them.

Today is our eldest daughter’s birthday, normally we would visit or go out for coffee, but not today due to the restrictions in place. As mentioned in yesterday’s entry we managed to get a card to her but we failed in our attempts to get flowers for her (seems flowers are in short supply as I also tried to order some flowers for our second daughter’s birthday on Saturday but no one could deliver anywhere near her birthday).

This morning I am still feeling that little bit better and so took my rollator for a very short stroll down our road. It was nice to be out in the sun and to see the progress of the tree and flower growth. My walk took around 10 min and I only got a third of the way down the road, but I was pleased with my efforts.

As the weather was warmer, I asked my neighbour if she would like to meet up for a ‘distance coffee’. She was agreeable, so I pushed my rollator and took my own coffee and biscuits onto her drive. As before we sat 2 metres away and did not touch each other or anything belonging to the other person. It was good to chat to my neighbour and to retain at least a bit of normality, but it is strange to have to sit apart and not to be able to touch each other or to share cakes or biscuits as we normally would. We discussed if we are still complying with Government rules around social distances and decided we still are. This is important to us, as neither of us like to do anything we shouldn’t do, and both of us want to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our families from this dreadful virus. While we were having our coffee the chaps who wash the bins came round, as once a month on black wheelie bin day they wash the inside and the outside of the bins. My neighbour pays for this service but I don’t, usually I give our bins an annual ‘spring clean’ doing both the inside and the outside, but with coronavirus and the risks associated with the refuse collectors touching so many other bins I am thinking I need to clean them more frequently and so I am considering washing the outsides of the bins every week with hot soapy water.

After a lunch of homemade carrot soup I went upstairs for my nap; as I am now reading the second book lent to me by my neighbour I read for about 10 mins before sleeping for 2 hours. These 2 hour naps are becoming the norm and just shows I am still really ill and my body is trying to ensure I rest and don’t try to do too much.

I woke just as my good friend B phoned for a catch up. We chatted about how each of us is coping, and I commented on the efforts of her husband to cheer us all up with the virtual grand tour using his own drawings of the Skillipigs. We also discussed how our children are coping with having their children (our grandchildren) at home and not in school. I was also able to talk about how our grandson who lives with us is coping. It seems that every teacher is handling it differently with some sending work to be completed, some providing suggestions of topics, and some just leaving it to parents and carers to do what they think is best. B and I agreed that when coronavirus is over, it will be difficult for teachers to assess where each child is educational and progress made or not made. Due to our previous work experiences, we are both very aware that some children will actually be in a worse situation educationally, physically and emotionally when this is all over. Some families will just not cope, some will fall to pieces without support services available, and for some children staying at home will be the worst thing that could happen to them. Very worrying and it will take a lot of time to unpick each child’s story both those who have had good or reasonable experiences at home – and those who have had bad or dreadful experiences.

B told me she is following my example and taking part in ‘distance coffee’ with some of her neighbours. She said that by following the social distancing rules she is able to support vulnerable neighbours, and that supports her wellbeing as well.

I did watch the Downing Street briefing, but found myself getting annoyed with the media. It seems to me they were ‘nit picking’ and finding fault, and most annoyingly asking the same questions over and over again. Questions about how Government would run with the Prime Minister in Intensive care, about the numbers of tests and about Personal Protective Equipment for the front line. I know not everything is as good as it could be; I know things promised have not always been carried out – but in my opinion this is a new virus and no one knows for sure how it will unfold or really what should be done or when. These questions from the media are now discouraging me from watching the briefings

Day 24
Wednesday 8th April
I did not record anything for Wednesday at the time, because it was a really bad day for me. As well as the usual pain and lack of physical ability I had a terrible headache, listening (even to my own voice) was too painful; moving my head at all was impossible.
However I have come back to this entry to add some explanation and as always to make links to the coronavirus situation we all find ourselves in.

I spent most of the day in my PJ’s, only getting dressed for a couple of hours, before ‘giving in’ and putting my PJ’s back on. In our household wearing PJ’s in the daytime is our way of saying to the rest of the family that we are not well and so don’t expect us to be our normal selves or to do our normal tasks.

I think that at times all of us will feel like we are not coping with all the changes to our lives; that we are fed up with the restrictions; and that we are genuinely feeling tired and out of sorts – and if we are coping with other things such as ill health of ourselves or our loved ones, or relationship breakdowns, or financial worries, then we are more likely to have days when, if we are honest we are not coping or at least not coping as well as we would like to be doing.

One thing that did happen was the postman delivered a small parcel. In it was some Face Shields made by the son of a friend who had used his 3D printer and laminated sheets to make them. He had very kindly donated 3 for me and my family members to use when we go out. I am not going out to busy places – just for an occasional short walk or for a ‘distance coffee’ but if for some reason I have to go out I have one which along with my homemade mouth / nose mask will give me some protection.

Finally for me, especially considering how terrible I felt on Wednesday, I managed to have a shower. So what you may be thinking, most people shower every day, but for me showering has been a huge difficulty for a couple of years now, and I only shower every 2 or 3 weeks and just have a good wash in-between. To shower I have to climb into the bath which is both painful and very difficult. I do have grab rails to help me but even so actually getting in and having a shower is a major achievement due to my physical difficulties including the wobbling while showering. I have to make sure Garry is around so he can assist if I fall or get stuck climbing in or out. As for having a bath forget it!

The point of mentioning this personal aspect of my illness is we all have things we find difficult, more than ever in the current situation with so many restrictions and changes to our daily lives. We will all be digging deep into our personal reserves, and I think many of us will be putting on a brave face and publically telling everyone we are fine, we are coping. I have been honest in the diary entries because I think it helps others to realise that we all have difficulties, and face challenges.

Day 25
Thursday 9th April
I was up early as usual, but noted my headache was much better, so I decided to make a card for our second daughters 40th birthday which is on Saturday. Like many in the world her special occasion will not be as she planned or hoped for. I hope the card gets to her as I know the postal service is struggling due to staff having to self isolate.

I also filled in a form to send back to DWP about the impact of my personal pension on the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) I get. I do question why this was deemed necessary as my pension figure is easy to verify via my tax records or via the company that pays it. DWP say I am due a pension increase but I have not been told and so could not give an up to date figure. In my case it will be an increase of pence or at most £1 as I have such a small personal pension.

However, in the grand scheme of things would it not be better to concentrate time and effort on supporting all the benefit claims and other coronavirus schemes put in place to support us all, rather than creating extra work? I know some other benefits are now ‘on hold’ for 3 months, maybe longer (such as PIP) for both new claims and updated claims, and that when this is all over everyone will either get back dated claims paid or will have to reimburse DWP for over payment. It is about getting priorities right.

I managed a walk with the support of Garry and my rollator to the post box at the end of the road. This is the furthest I have walked for a long time, and I was not sure I would manage it – hence why Garry came with me. I did find it very hard coming back up the ‘hill’ to our house. It is not really a hill just a gentle slope but it felt like a big hill to me. Once home I had to sit and rest as I was shattered.

The rest of the day was spent hanging washing on the line (a few items at a time), and having another ‘distance coffee’ with my neighbour (second this week). It was nice just to sit on my rollator on her drive, enjoying the sun and chatting.

I finally finished knitting the hat for grandchild 12 who is due mid June. The hat is to go with the jacket I finished a week or two ago, but will also go with a snowsuit that big sister to be has chosen for her brother. The hat has a few mistakes but it is still very usable and I am proud of my efforts and my developing knitting skills.

Despite my annoyance at the media, I did watch the Downing Street briefing, and was upset at the number of deaths. Each death is tragic as it means that person has died without any family members being present, each death will mean a scaled down funeral with just a few very close family members present – and those family members will not be able to hug (unless live in the same household) and will not be able to be comforted by the wide family and friend support network, making such a sad and difficult time even harder to cope with.

Tonight for the first time I managed to stay awake, and joined Garry and my neighbours to clap for the keyworkers – all of those who are still working to care for us and to provide essential services.

Day 26
Friday 10th April
Another bad night for me, not helped by the fact that I forgot to take my evening morphine and by the time I worked out why I was not sleeping, I was 2.5 hrs late taking it. Rest of night was spent getting in and out of bed – usual reasons such as needing to use toilet every couple of hours, plus pain in lower legs and discomfort in my back and the never ending horrid pain in my upper tummy and lower chest. Just ‘normal’ stuff I have to live with but last night was worse than usual – maybe due to my walk yesterday, as I know I always get ‘pain payback’ when I push myself.

I was once again up early and decided I needed to find motivation from somewhere and to make an effort. So taking my time and resting as needed, I tackled the ironing created by yesterday’s washing. Then I decided to make some banana flapjack as the one I made a few days ago was such a success. While the flapjack was cooking I decided to make some cheese scones to go with our homemade soup later on at lunch time. AND – ladies and gentlemen that is how easy it is for me too over do things. For most people the tasks I have described are all normal activities and do not cause any issues, but for me I cannot cope, I exhaust myself and have to sit and rest for a long time. I also have the ‘pain payback’ for hours afterwards – and this is what happened today.

Garry and I decided to have morning coffee in our motorhome parked on our drive, but I could barely move with very wobbly legs and pain shooting through my body. I did get in the van by sort of crawling up the steps, and got out afterwards by going backwards down the steps very slowly, holding on to both sides of the doorway. Once in the motorhome we enjoyed pretending we were on our Easter holiday.

Some may ask why I bother to push myself like this. Truth is I need to keep trying, I need to do whatever I can to the best of my ability; giving up and not trying is just not an option. Before coronavirus, not many understood this because after all the general opinion was we all have so many options and can all pick and choose what we do and don’t do. Few understood that when you are seriously ill or disabled you do not have so many options and giving up would be easy, as would relying on others to do everything for you. However, giving up leads to depression, leads to losing ability as muscles get weaker and your ability to control your own limbs gets worse. For many (like me) retaining your independence is vitally important, as is retaining the right to decide things, and to do the things you want to do – even if it takes longer or is not as good as it once used to be. We are first and foremost unique, individual human beings.

Since coronavirus hit us all, I have noticed a greater understanding around why I push myself so hard to keep trying. 3 years is a long time to keep trying, but because I do keep trying, I still have hope, and hope is what keeps us all going. So many people now have less choices and many restrictions on their freedoms, they are also having to do things that are totally different to the ‘norm’. This means they are now trying to hang on to as much of ‘normal’ life as they can, and where they can’t, they are setting new routines and goals. I say welcome to the world myself and many others live in – we all need to keep trying, and we all need to have hope – hope that we beat coronavirus – hope our illnesses and disabilities improve or at least we find ways to overcome the barriers, hope that things will return to normal fairly soon and that we can pick up the pieces of our ‘before coronavirus’ lives of work / school. hobbies, social engagements, holidays and so on.

Another 2 hour lunchtime nap, I admit I am finding this need to nap for 2 hours depressing, I would rather not nap but know I have to as it is my body’s way of telling me I am not well. It seems my quality of life has got worse and that although we are not going out or having visitors, I feel I am missing ‘something’.

My Mum phoned me for a chat, she is well and getting used to restrictions and the queues in shops. She has not lived where she lives now for very long but luckily has made a few friends who live in the same building, including one who enjoys going for a short walk with Mum, most days. I was a bit sad because we had a visit planned to the area where she lives and of course to visit her and see her new flat but now we will not be doing that, and we have no idea when will be able to visit.

The Downing Street briefing was on the TV but I was not in the mood for the media questions, so I listened to the speakers for the updates, and looked at the graphs they showed, but then turned the TV off. I was a bit depressed, so many deaths and no indication when restrictions can start to be lifted. I do understand the reasons why restrictions cannot be lifted yet, but I guess like many I am hoping that all of this will be like a bad nightmare and will be over before the summer. Personally I knew Easter would be a difficult time as we are not able to visit family and friends or do any of the things many of us would usually do over the Bank Holidays, but the thought that the restrictions may still need to be in place for the next Bank Holidays in May is not a welcome one. My mind is focussed on June, and in particular mid June when the new grandchild is due because if the restrictions are still in place we will not be able to support our daughter as we would like to. I know everyone has family events that they are worried will be cancelled or that they will not be able to support as they would wish, but that does not make it any easier for me (or anyone else) to come to terms with the fact this is all beyond our control, and worse knowing a few are risking spreading the virus because they are not abiding by the rules and think they don’t need to STAY AT HOME.

Good news of the day is the Prime Minister is out of intensive care. This news gives us all hope that even if we do get coronavirus we will not all die. However, it remains impossible to know who will have a mild case and recover without going to hospital; who will have a bad case and need to go to hospital and maybe have a short time in intensive care; and who will need ventilation and a longer spell in intensive care; and who will sadly not get better and die.

Day 27
Saturday 11th April
Another difficult day for me, I just feel terrible and doing anything exhausts me. I did try to be positive when I woke up and I made some small cakes to have later at coffee time, but I could not maintain that level of activity.

So not much done today at all, I did wish our 2nd daughter a happy birthday. The card reached her but sadly her surprise gift did not get delivered. At the end of the day I email the company and received a prompt reply with an apology. They said the gift would arrive by Tuesday at the latest and they offered to refund all the postage costs. Not ideal but at least my daughter will eventually get her 40th birthday gift.

The other thing I did today in an effort to ‘make a difference’ is that I started and finished knitting a hat for a premature baby. I used to knit these and donate via my local knitting group, but knitting group is now closed until this is all over so I can’t get the hats to them. A friend sent me a link about a direct appeal for knitted items from a local Children’s hospital, together with a postal address. So this is how I will continue with my charity knitting, and I hope to be able to send a number of hats by the end of next week.

The daily Downing Street briefing was depressing as the number of deaths has almost reached 10,000 – in fact I know if all the deaths were able to be included we will have exceeded 10,000. I remember when numbers were much lower that I thought the predicted number of 20,000 was outrageous and just too dreadful to think about – and now we are half way there with huge numbers of deaths being announced every day. There is a little optimism that things are showing signs of improving and that the curve is being flatten but I am not so sure, and with local and national reports of some people still not heading the rules to STAY AT HOME, I can’t help wondering if 2 weeks after the Easter break, we will see a spike in the number of cases and deaths – I hope not as will mean self isolation will have to continue for a lot longer.

As in the last couple of days I switched the TV before the media started asking questions. I am even starting to think I might not watch the Downing Street briefings live, as the information gets repeated at the 6 0’clock news and all other news programmes, including Breakfast News the next morning. At first I wanted to hear the information as soon as possible but now I am not sure I need to do this or even if it is good for my wellbeing. Something to think about…..

As I have not felt well Garry has been busy continuing with the alterations to his train layout, moving buildings and adding detail. Our Grandson has spent most of the morning in bed (as he has most days this week), he tidied his room for the third time this week and spent some time in the garden with us while we were having a drink.

Day 28
Sunday 12th April
Well Easter Sunday and what a strange one! Our grandson and I had eaten our eggs before this morning and there was no Easter egg hunt with the younger grandchildren. However one granddaughter sent a video of her saying Happy Easter, and we were sent photo’s of another 3 grandchildren doing an egg hunt in their garden. We do not normally go to church so no change there for us, but many friends, family and people around the world do and so for them this Easter is totally different. Some Churches have online services, and lots have recorded messages for those interested to listen to. I have heard via the news that some of these online services have been watched by many more than would have traditionally attended in person – may be this kind of thing will continue after the pandemic is over.

I do wonder if some things will have changed forever, and if these changes will be beneficial. Certainly I hope people will realise that children do not need testing all the time, and that formal academics are not the most important part of a child’s education. I also hope that people will realise that life skills and adaptability are vitally important when everything has to suddenly stop. Hopefully people will also realise that we have been valuing (and therefore paying higher wages to) the wrong people. In my opinion there are ‘nice’ things that we can enjoy such as football teams, or concerts or films and much more, but actually we can easily adjust and manage without those things BUT there are things we cannot do without like healthcare, food, public services and more; and other things like childcare, old people care, volunteers and charities which support all of us at different points in our lives. I hope that when things settle down we will share out available money for wages and resources much more fairly. Many more are now volunteering, many more are supporting charities and good causes; so I hope once we return to ‘normal’ (whatever that may be) that some good will come from what we have been through.

Today I have tried not to overdo things, so no early morning cooking or ironing, I just sat in my chair and knitted. A bit later I had coffee (and yesterday’s homemade cakes) in the garden with Garry; I filled up the bird feeders and then returned to my chair for a bit more knitting.

The Downing Street Briefing was on but I was not even in the room, I think I have reached ‘over load point’ and just can’t cope with hearing the depressing facts and figures. I will catch up at some point but at the moment doing the washing up seemed a better option!

Talking to family, neighbours, and friends online, it seems I am not the only person who is at ‘overload’ point as many are telling me they want to start hearing more positive news; they are fed up with having to Stay At Home and want to have some idea when the restrictions will start to be lifted so they can start planning get togethers with family and friends – and even a holiday.

However for now we are just going to have to keep complying with the rules to ensure we can beat this virus, flatten the curve and support our NHS. We all need to STAY AT HOME, otherwise we will not beat it, and more people will die.

We do have a little bit of good news as the Prime Minister is out of hospital and back at home where he will continue to recover. I think it does not matter if you voted for Boris Johnson or not, that fact that he has had the virus, been very ill but is now recovering is a very positive and should give us all hope.

Day 29
Monday 13th April
Today my health got the better of me, and I just had to get through the day as best as I could either sitting in my chair or being in bed. To be honest I really did not give two hoots about the news on the developing coronavirus pandemic. The only two things I achieved was to finish a hat for our next grandchild, and to phone my Dad.

I did not record any thoughts here until Wednesday AM, a first for me, to go 2 days without commenting. Sometimes your own personal situation (health, finances, relationships, births, deaths and so on), means what is going on in the world, or even in your local community seem unimportant and it is all you can do is get through the day.

As I felt so bad, and as I have said did not give two hoots about coronavirus or what was going on around me, I am not going to try and write a ‘catch up account’ for today.

Day 30
Tuesday 14th April
**Please note – this entry is being written on Wednesday as a ‘catch up entry’**
I had a terrible night of pain and as a result did not sleep well, however with the help of some oramorph when I woke up, I did feel a little bit more human in the morning. I took the decision that the time had come to increase my daily zomorph, so my plan was from my evening dose I would increase my dose from 30mg to 40mg. This scenario has been discussed in advance before coronavirus with my GP and he had given me permission to up the dose whenever I felt I needed to. My repeat prescription was updated months ago to include a prescription for 10mg tablets as well as the 30mg tablet, and the oramorph. My GP is aware I really do not like being on morphine and that I have a track record of reducing my morphine whenever I can. As an example at the peak in the early days of my illness I was on 120mg of zomorph twice a day, but overtime reduced it to zero mg - although I could not maintain that long term and on doctor’s advice started taking it again increasing back up to 30mg. I have put off this latest increase for months, but today was the day when I decided I could not cope anymore and hence the decision to increase.


I wonder if other people are managing their own health in some way to help reduce the pressure on medical services. Certainly information on TV suggests far less people are going to A & E; and to see your GP is strictly controlled with phone calls replacing many Face to Face appointments, which I suspect means people try not to ‘bother’ their GP. Personally I am very reluctant to seek help or even advice in situations where I can be proactive in solving my own issues

Of course if anyone has any new health concerns they must seek help and advice. This was the case for my pregnant daughter earlier this month, and today she once again had to seek support by phone from her midwife, who told her to phone our main hospital, who in turn told her she needed to go to the hospital to be checked. Doctors were slightly concerned and although she was allowed to go home, she has to return for a scan.

I sent my Dad an email as the phone call yesterday had not been that successful due to Dad’s hearing loss, and my difficulty in speaking louder. I was pleased to get a reply and so will continue to email him in the future. I will still phone regularly but at least the call can be shorter as I won’t have to provide update details, and can just ask if he is OK / needs anything.
I already speak to my Mum regularly by phone and have done so for years as distance prevented visiting as often as I would like, but now I have also started emailing her. The first one I had back was very chatty with info I had not been told on the phone.

One granddaughter likes to have a video call every couple of days. I text the oldest grandchildren, and keep in touch with others via their parents and exchange of photo’s. Since coronavirus hit us 3 of the young granddaughters have had emails set up by their parents so they can keep in touch. Their parents help them read and reply to the emails, but they are enjoying this new thing and I think will help them with education and life skills.

During the day, although feeling better I was not able to do much and so concentrated on knitting baby hats for premature babies at a local Children’s hospital. I managed to knit 2 and a half hats, so with the pink one I knitted over the weekend (shown in last week’s diary entry) I now have 3 finished hats and another part finished. I hope to have at least half a dozen by the end of the week when I will post them to the hospital. I will of course continue knitting hats for as long as they need them.

Garry went shopping today, as he thought Monday might be too busy due to the shops being closed on Easter Sunday. He reported that everything was calm and orderly, and that although he had to be a bit flexible and buy alternative items (for example a toffee cheesecake instead of a strawberry one), he did manage to buy everything we needed including hand wash and toilet rolls. Here I have to put my hand up and admit I forgot to tell Garry we did not need toilet rolls, because he had brought some on the 2 previous shopping trips. I felt guilty when I saw he had brought some, but as the panic over toilet rolls is now more or less over, I don’t think my over sight will have impacted on others – at least I hope not.

Once again I did not watch the Downing Street Briefing, but I did watch the evening news. The rise in number of deaths over the 2 days (because I did not watch / listen yesterday) was shocking and horrifying. I noted there was mention that we may be flattening the curve and that there was hope we are moving in the right direction.

Day 31
Wednesday 15th April
Started the day in pain and was up early as the extra zomorph had worn off by about 4.15 Am, so I watched some TV. It seems the focus now is on the economic impact of coronavirus, with some forecasting the worse economic downturn since World War One. It was gloomy watching and in my opinion this is not the time to be making such predictions because at best it is an educated guess, and at worse it will actually make people scared and this will bring about financial markets crashing, and individuals being even more depressed than they already were. Off course there will be a high price to pay for all the support packages put in place, and the loss of income – BUT this is worldwide, every country will have to pick up the pieces and consider tax increases and the like. I think the focus at the moment should be on beating the virus and saving lives – once we know the curve has been flattened and we are on the downward slope, then we can talk about how we recover financially and how we will manage the exit from the lockdown restrictions.

I also noted that now seems to be a lot of ‘blaming others’ around things like the shortage of PPE, the need for a lockdown at all, the number of tests, lack of support for the care home sector and more. Personally I think this is not appropriate and will create a negative atmosphere and ‘in fighting’. I agree that with hindsight things could have been handled differently or better BUT hindsight is a wonderful thing, as is all the research and further information about the virus. I don’t think anyone can say with certainty that if we had followed path a, b or c if it would have had a better outcome or if there would have been less deaths. Comparisons between different countries and how they have dealt with the pandemic are difficult to make as there are so many variables. Rather than blaming others and creating divide, I think at the moment the most important thing is we all work together to beat this virus, with the second most important thing being working together to rebuild our lives (hopefully making changes to improve lives based on what we have learnt through this pandemic experience).

There will be plenty of time for unpicking the whole thing, and to learn from our successes and mistakes in the years that follow.

I was hopeful that today would be a better day for me, and that I would be able to do a bit more, and in particular to take part in a video call with 2 of my friends, and to have another distance coffee with my neighbour. As it turned out by 9AM I was exhausted and ended up dropping out of the video call with my friends, and did not have coffee with my neighbour. I managed to do some more knitting and by the end of the day, I had a total of 6 hats for premature babies finished. Having met my own target of half a dozen hats, I have now reset my target to 10 hats by the weekend.

I did spend half an hour in the afternoon in the garden, sitting on a bench having a cold drink and doing a bit of knitting.

Garry and our grandson are struggling a bit to motivate themselves, with both saying they are suffering with ‘cabin fever’. During the day Garry did some more to his train layout, and was very pleased with some buildings / scenery that he built from scratch using bits and pieces left over from other projects. Our grandson went on a bike ride having decided despite the risks he really needs that once a day opportunity to leave the house and exercise. He also used his weights and played on the xbox for a while. As I do every day, I asked him if he planned to do any school work, and indeed if he had done any this week. He had all sorts of reasons why he had not done much from teachers not being available this week to ask questions due to the Easter holidays, to problems with the online sites – so my guess is he has not actually done any school work, certainly not enough to make a difference to his educational outcomes. I reminded him school would be returning to monitoring pupils on Tuesday and teachers would be phoning him for updates. I am trying to be very relaxed about school work a) because I cannot make him learn and although I could insist he sat at a table with laptop, pen and paper, it would just lead to resentment and creativity in avoiding the tasks; b) He needs to work on his independence, and his motivation. He will need these skills for life and in particular when he starts college in the autumn, and in my opinion now is an ideal time for him to realise this, and once he has come to the conclusion that his future is in his own hands, to organise himself and his own learning experiences. To be honest I want him to concentrate on his key skills in English and Maths, but other than that I want him to discover the joy of learning and gain the motivation to push himself to learn new skills – no matter what they are, because wanting to learn is what will ensure he succeeds at college and in life.

Day 32
Thursday 16th April
Not much to report today as I am struggling with my health and with worries about not just my future but that of our country, and so playing catch up with writing these dairy entries. As I have said before we all have low points either through illness, depression, family circumstances and more (often more than one thing at same time)

For me the news that we are all going to have to self isolate and maintain social distancing for AT LEAST another THREE WEEKS, was like a blow on the head. As you can see from this diary entry heading for me this is day 32 of my self isolation and the thought of another 21 days is depressing as means another 21 days before we can think of going out for coffee or lunch in local towns; another 21 days before we can visit family and friends; another 21 days before we can even start to plan trips away in our ‘new to us’ motorhome. I know I am being selfish, and only thinking of myself some of the time (which is unusual for me because normally I put everyone else’s needs before my own), but I know many others are now really struggling with their feelings due to their worries about their businesses and their employment. Even those who are normally the ones to be optimistic and support others when they are a bit ‘down’, are now the ones who are publically discussing their concerns and their feelings. I am pleased people are doing this, and as readers know some time ago I took the decision to be honest about my feelings in the hope it would support others to understand that most of us are struggling and at times we despair that this will ever end.

TODAY MY FEELINGS WERE OUT OF CONTROL as due to feeling rubbish and my own worries I kept crying and struggled to see the positive in anything. So unlike me as I am usually a positive person.

Day 33
Friday 17th April
I felt a bit more positive today and did some more knitting, however I was also sad because today was the day we should have been going to Devon for a short holiday and to see my mum. I decided to send her an email in attempt to feel a bit more connected, she replied which did help a bit.

However, I was still not feeling well and actually somewhat worse, so apart from the knitting I did nothing much and nodded off to sleep several times. I missed the Downing Street briefing and to be honest I really did not want to hear the latest figures or listen to the repetitive questions from the media.

Day 34
Saturday 18th April
Another family member birthday today. This is our 5th family birthday since we started self isolation, and it has saddened me that these special family occasions have been changed and cannot be celebrated later. Of course like many families we are planning on having a big family celebration (or several smaller ones) once we can all meet together in person, and we will reflect on all the family occasions that have not taken place – but it is not the same especially for the younger members of the family. With this in mind, and as today was the 8th birthday of one of our granddaughters, we decided to make an extra effort. We had not chosen a present especially for her and it was in fact from my store of bargains that I keep ‘just in case’, although naturally something we thought she would like and enjoy. The extra effort made was to drive to our daughter’s house to surprise our granddaughter. As the roads are quiet the journey took just 10 mins, our daughter had been forewarned and we had discussed keeping to the social distancing rules. As we pulled onto the drive, our son in law came out and opened the gate so we did not have to touch it. We then stood a bit more than 6 ft from their back door (by we, I mean Garry, our grandson and myself). Our daughter gathered her 3 youngest children, including the birthday girl by the back door with instructions not to go outside. We then sang Happy Birthday and gave 3 cheers for the birthday girl, before putting the bag containing the gift and card on the gravel between us and the back door. We then backed away, said our goodbyes and got back in our car, leaving our son in law to shut the gate once we had gone. The whole thing including the return journey took 30 mins. It certainly made my day to see our 3 granddaughter’s even if only briefly and from a distance. I hope it was a highlight of the birthday girl’s day.

Unfortunately, the rest of the day was very difficult for me as I was exhausted, even sitting in my chair knitting was a ‘no no’ as I kept falling asleep and so due to the risk of dropping stitches I gave up trying.

The Downing Street briefing and the evening news were on but I really don’t have a clue what was said because by that point I was feeling very unwell and had a ‘new to me’ pain in my side.

The pain became much worse and I was not coping, by midnight this pain and general feeling were getting the better of me; Plus my glucose level had risen to 29.3 according to my home testing. Garry wanted to call 111, but I asked him not to due to my fears of Covid 19 if it was decided I needed to go to hospital. Instead I self monitored through the night and was relieved that my glucose dropped to 25.2 within 2 hours, and to 23.3 another 2 hours later. By 3am I was feeling a little better and the pain had reduced so I managed a couple of hours sleep. On waking my glucose level was 16.8 which although high for most people is actually within the 16 – 18 target set by my medical team. I am not sure of the root cause of things but as readers will have noted I have reported not being well for a few weeks, with things being worse this week – and I do know being ill can cause glucose levels to spike. I will of course monitor things and speak to my GP as soon as possible.

Day 35
Sunday 19th April
After last night / early this morning, naturally I did not feel so good this morning and took things easy, just doing a bit of knitting. However by mid-afternoon I was feeling a lot brighter – not brilliant but so much better.

I was pleased with my progress with my charity knitting of the premature baby hats and by 4pm I had a total of 11 hats finished and 1 more under construction, so despite the difficulties of the week I had exceeded my own target of 10 hats.

Garry spent the day supporting me, but also do a bit more to his train layout and cleaning / maintenance of our cars. Our grandson went for his usual daily exercise on his bike, tidied his room (he is making a big effort to keep on top of this) and generally kept himself busy via social media, doing some art and so forth.

Today I was able to pay attention to the Downing Street briefing. The number of deaths appeared huge to me as I have not kept up to date while feeling so ill, but I did notice the rise over the last 24 hours was less than the previous few days. Is this a sign that things are improving? I am not sure, and neither were the government’s medical advisors. They took the time to explain what the graphs were showing and how they thought things would progress over the next few days and weeks. The forecasts are very depressing as they expect there to be more deaths – and the horrifying forecast from the beginning of the pandemic when they said if we had below 20,000 deaths we would have done well, now seems low. I have a vague memory of a few days ago someone saying on the news that we should prepare ourselves for a much higher total, maybe closer to 40,000. This is really worrying and is going to impact on so many families, losing a loved one is never easy but is even harder in these circumstances when families are not able to be with their loved ones to provide comfort. I am not sure when I heard it due to poor health this week, but it might have been Saturday, when the Minister said they were looking at ways where they could enable contact between the ill person and their family but still stick to social distancing, as in his opinion, no one should die without contact with their family.

Some of the graphs shown were to my inexperienced eye, quite encouraging and I think if everyone sticks to the STAY AT HOME rule, we may have even more encouraging news in the next days and weeks.

Media were pressing for info about PPE, testing, and plans for the exit from the restrictions. Personally I think those at the podiums explained very well how complicated things are, and how easy it is to jump to conclusions, or make assumptions. With PPE it is clear the government is trying very hard within a global completive market to source PPE, but things are not always going to plan. I hope they do get more equipment and quickly as my daughter works in a care home and is experiencing shortages, particularly of the resources to care safely for the residents who have Covid 19 (or displaying symptoms).

The Education Minister was questioned about plans to reopen schools to all pupils as there had been media reports about restrictions being lifted as early as 11th May. According to the Education Minister these reports were not based on facts and they had no plans to fully reopen school until the five criteria they have in place have been met. There were also questions about helping pupils to catch up, and maybe opening schools during the summer holidays. Again this was idea was squashed, and although there were concerns that some pupils would not be having very positive experiences at home, and maybe no support with work set by school for a number of reasons including lack of IT resources such as laptops and internet connection, it was stated that now is not the time to divert from the prime objective of STAY AT HOME and MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING in order to PROTECT THE NHS and SAVE LIVES.

I TOTALLY AGREE – ONE STEP AT A TIME. Once we have this nasty virus on the back foot, we can take the next steps including our exit strategy.

So, not a very good week for me, and as a result not very good recording of what I did or about my thoughts about the pandemic but it is a realistic account of the fact that all of us have bad days, all of us don’t cope at times, and that sometimes we don’t give two hoots about anything other than our own personal situation. To end on a positive here is a photo of the 11 hats for premature babies that I have knitted this week.

Day 36
Monday 20th April
I am still recovering from the bout of illness over last weekend, but luckily I am starting to feel more human. I know I have to take it easy and so did not do much, other than knitting some more hats for premature babies and chatting to friends via messenger. My friends know me well (and understand my health issues) and so were able to offer support, suggestions and to give encouragement.

While on social media I picked up further information around the apparent U turn by Government about support for Early Years settings during the pandemic. This news had started to filter through last Friday, and as the day progressed more information became available via articles and media reports. Government have said that Early Years settings cannot claim the Early Years funding for 3 and 4 year olds and at same time claim 80% of staff wages to furlough them. They now have to claim a % and there are rules to follow making it all a bit complicated and time consuming. The worse thing though is original Government documentation said settings could claim both and so they have done their calculations and made plans based on that. In my opinion if the Government had stated right from the beginning that this was the case, I would have been annoyed because due to underfunding of the Early Years entitlement for 3 and 4 years there is already a crisis and many settings have already closed, and those still open do not have large financial reserves. However to say one thing and then implement another thing is in my opinion outrageous and unprofessional by the Government, as many settings will have made plans and informed staff and parents based on the first information provided. Although I no longer run my own early years setting, I am still a member of some Early Years organisations and remain fairly up to date about current situations. I totally understand the frustrations and worries about the future that many of my early years colleagues have.
I signed a petition to support efforts to persuade Government to reconsider their decision and to support early years settings and in particular childminders at this very difficult and challenging time. In my opinion if Government are not proactive in supporting the sector and again in particular childminders who cannot access some of the general support offered to businesses, we will find there is a lack of childcare available once the pandemic is over and this will impact on parents ability to return to their workplaces.

I managed a short ‘distance coffee’ with my neighbour, and it was lovely to sit on her drive in the sunshine chatting.
As I was feeling a little better, I did watch the Downing Street briefing and was encouraged by the reduced number of deaths reported by hospitals over the previous 24 hrs. Looking at the graphs shown there did seem to be a general ‘flattening of the curve’. Reporters were keen to ask if we would now be able to start lifting the restrictions – or if this could not happen now, how soon that would happen. I tend to think it is far too soon, and if restrictions are lifted that the virus will once again spiral out of control.

As it was the last day of what should have been the Easter holidays, our grandson had a relaxed day, knowing that tomorrow he would be required to do some educational based activities.

Day 37
Tuesday 21st April
I spent most of the day supporting my grandson with a project to make a foam costume head, this involved a lot of Maths, discussion, reflection, learning from mistakes, designing and creativity. My grandson finds listening to other people’s ideas hard, he also does not like to get things ‘wrong’ and is very critical of his own abilities. In fact most of today’s project really challenged him and he found it hard to concentrate and stay on task – but by the end of the day he had made visible progress and had ideas for what he needed to do next. He ended the ’school day’ looking at a detailed book about cars that included drawings and photographs of car components, which hopefully will support his plans for a motor mechanic course at college.

Once again, our grandson’s home schooling has not followed the ‘rule book’ and he has not done much in terms of work set by school apart from finishing a task for his catering course. However, I would argue that spending the day working on something that interested him, and therefore motivated him to stick with it despite the challenges, was of far more benefit educationally than me insisting he did something he did not want to do, or have any interest in. As usual he did go out for his daily bike ride but is becoming more anxious about the number of other people out who are not following the social distancing rules.

Garry has also found some motivation and today decided to try and finish fitting our new kitchen. The kitchen has been ‘operational’ for well over a year but there were lots of tasks that still needed doing such as fitting the kickboards and side panels. However despite his increased motivation due to the lockdown he is having to be inventive and creative as he does not have all the materials or tools that he needs.

I did watch the Downing Street briefing – but not the questions from the media – as mentioned before, I do not understand or like the culture of blame or the negativity of some reporters. In my opinion we really need to work together, accept that nothing will go fully as planned and that everyone is actually doing the best they can in very difficult circumstances. I think reporters should be proactive in reporting the positive side of things. One of the issues that reporters keep on harping on about is the lack of PPE – and yes there are shortages but this is a worldwide issue. However we have not actually run out of PPE yet, and in my opinion everyone including Government are working really hard to source PPE and to get it to where it is needed. Could Government done more – with hindsight I think they could have, but hindsight is a wonderful tool to use for reflection and to help learn from situations for the future – but hindsight does not help with unfolding situations.

After the relatively lower numbers of death reported over the last couple of days, it was very disappointing to see the number of deaths in the last 24 hours appear to have risen and were well over 800. It was explained that this is not necessary the real picture as over the weekend there is sometimes a delay in reporting deaths and getting the figures included in the national statistics. So from now on I am going to try and take a more averaged out view of the figures and see what the weekly totals are doing in terms of increase or decrease, not forgetting that these are deaths in hospitals and do not include care homes or hospices or deaths at home.

I am finding the talk about how we may have to continue social distancing into 2021, and that we may not even start to return to normal for months, very difficult to cope with. I am maybe a week or so ahead of most people in terms of self isolation, and so I am now experiencing the knock on impact of staying at home for many weeks. It does not help that I cannot go for a long walk or a bike ride and I am limited to a few steps beyond my drive, or half way down the road on my bike (on the rare days I am well enough to even get on my bike). I am also not able to go to the shops – not even for essentials because the risk is too high for me. So apart from the one trip out to sing Happy Birthday to a grandchild on 18th April while maintaining social distance, and a few ‘distance coffees’ on my neighbours drive, I have pretty much been stuck in the chair in my lounge. I know I am lucky, my house is big enough for the 3 of us to have our own space; we do have a small garden with lawn, a tree, and flowers that we can sit in, on nice days – but I would not be being honest if I claimed I was coping and everything was fine – because it is not!

Day 38
Thursday 22nd April
First thing this morning our eldest daughter dropped off into the porch 3 packets of my favourite coffee sachets – enough for 24 cups – as a gift to me. A small act of kindness that means a lot.

Today I once again was not feeling that great, but I was determined to take part in a video call with 2 of my friends, as so far I had only managed to take part in one of these calls since lockdown. It was lovely to catch up with them both and to share what we have been doing, one has been helping to deliver food parcels to the vulnerable, and also doing some painting round the house; the other has been supporting local families and spoke about it being the birthday of a child from one of the families, and her plans to add a few treats to the food parcel and to get a small present and card to the child. I know both my friends are making a difference in their communities, and that these small acts of kindness are happening all over the country. I was thinking my own small contribution of my charity knitting of hats for premature babies was somewhat lacking, until my friend reminded me that actually what I and Garry are doing to support our grandson long term and in particular during the pandemic is also an act of kindness and a responsibility we did not have to take on.

Garry has been working hard with continuing his efforts to finish the kitchen. He found he did not have all the pieces he needed – not sure if not delivered with the kitchen, or we had lost them. Anyhow he decided he would have to go out and try to buy some, and set off to the nearest DIY shop. The queue to get in was huge and it was clear it would be a long wait – perfectly understandable due social distancing but Garry did not want to stand in the queue for that long, and so came home and did what he could including improvising with bits of wood instead of proper ‘joiners’.

Our grandson kept himself busy working on his costume, making good progress, by going on his bike ride and socialising online.

I kept myself busy doing some more knitting, finishing off a pair of mittens for our expected new grandchild and some more premature baby hats.

Although still not feeling brilliant, I did watch the Downing Street briefing, I noted the number of deaths were not quite so high, but taking into account my decision to take an average over last few days I could see that numbers were over the last few days fairly stable and so could be viewed as flattening the curve rather than a downward trend.

The Governments 5 point criteria which has to be met before we can even start to reduce the restrictions makes sense to me but it does not make me happy to realise we are not at that point yet – and may not be for a number of weeks if not months.

Listening to the questions from the media, it seems they don’t really listen to the responses and just ask their question appearing to hoping to be the one that get a different answer and so in effect ‘catch the Government out’. I wish they would ask questions about further info or explore ways in which they and the public could help. I know others share my concerns and frustrations around the media’s role, and so it seems media have failed to work out the mood of the country and the fact that many of us would prefer not to have the constant effort to blame others and to find fault.

Once this is all over, we can all reflect and all learn from what we did and what we didn’t do – but now is not the time for this.

Day 39
Thursday 23rd April
Once again I was up early, and so watched the ‘BBC Briefing’ which is aired from 5am – 6pm. I noted that they were showing recordings of people who have been doing self Isolating diaries, they even interviewed a couple via live online links. I thought they might be interested in my self isolating diary and tweeted them the link but clearly they were not interested as they did not get back to me. Not to worry as I am not writing them for reasons of public exposure but rather for family, friends and colleagues – and to leave a record of this time for future generations of my family. While I was on Twitter, I took opportunity to re-engage as over the last few weeks I have been taking a Twitter break due to my health and not coping with things / over doing things.

I received a copy of our grandson’s EHCP via email showing the changes I had wanted to be made. I checked the form and apart from one small point which I highlighted to SEND team, I was happy with the changes. The EHCP will now be send to the college our grandson will be attending so they can ensure they are prepared and able to meet his needs.

In the afternoon I had a distance coffee with my neighbour, and I took opportunity to return the books I had borrowed. By reading just a couple pages at a time, I had actually finishing reading all 3 books. I was really pleased about this, and so when my neighbour asked if I would like to borrow some more books – I said ‘Yes Please’. As I explained to my neighbour key to my success is keeping the book I am reading in the bathroom so it is to hand on my many visits to the loo throughout the day and night.

On both TV and social media there has been discussing cloth face masks and if we should use them or not. Opinion is divided! My personal opinion is if you have to go out in a public place for a short period of time, wearing a cloth facemask will provide a little protection to yourself and to others. Readers of my diary will know I have made myself a cloth face mask, and I also have a face shield made by a friends son, so if I go out I will wear both my cloth facemask and my plastic face shield.

I think everyone needs to consider their own personal situation and if THEY think it will be beneficial or not to wear either a facemask or a face shield.

One thing I feel quite strongly about is in my opinion, general public should not use medical face masks while there is a shortage for keyworkers.

Our grandson went out for his usual bike ride, but when he came home he was very anxious because for the first time he had had problems with others at the park where he uses the bike jumps. He had more or less finished what he wanted to do, and so moved away so the others (a small group of lads) could use the jumps. As readers know our grandson has Asperger’s and does not cope well in social contexts and so was very keen to get away as quickly as possible. He was also cross that these lads were in a group and not practicing social distancing. Sadly the group of lads did not move away to use the jumps, instead the moved closer to our grandson and threaten to get closer and ‘to give him coronavirus’. Of course he had no idea if the lads had the virus or not, but he was scared. He ended up phoning the Police, who were unable to do anything – but on hearing the Police responding (it was on loud speaker) was enough to worry the lads and they moved away. Our grandson then came straight home.

During the day I contacted friends and family via text and social media, as I am trying to be proactive in staying in touch, and checking they are OK, and having a ‘chat’ for their wellbeing and mine. I am not very good with phone calls or video calls – as in I don’t tend to make them. I will reply if someone phones me, but I am trying to overcome my childhood based fears about phone calls.

My eldest daughter posted on social media that her youngest daughter has out grown her shoes, and as the shoe shops that measure and fit children’s shoes are shut, she was not sure how to solve this issue. Thinking about it many children will be out growing shoes and clothes (and as I know from my pregnant daughter expectant mums are struggling to kit out their baby and to obtain the things on the hospital check lists for the birth. Some things can be brought online but you cannot ensure good fit (important for shoes) and there is less choice especially if need extra small or large sizes. Delivery is also a problem with many online sites reporting delays. Certainly my experience of trying to buy flowers and gifts online showed just how difficult this can be. As an update the gift we tried to have delivered for our second daughter’s 40th birthday never reached her due to problems with the courier, and in the end we were given a refund.

Two questions come to my mind –
One: Will shops like those who supply things like fitted shoes survive and if they do will they be super busy after lockdown or will customers decide fitted shoes are now not a necessity – same goes for any other made to measure items?

Two: With the lockdown meaning you can’t travel to collect second hand items from individuals, and there are no carboots or jumble sales or charity shops open, how do those who rely on these opportunities to buy children’s clothes / toys / equipment manage as it is unlikely they will be able to afford new stuff online.

My daughter downloaded and printed a foot measurement aid, and discovered her daughter is now a size 8. Luckily at the back of a cupboard she found wellies and trainer type shoes that had been outgrown by her older daughters – so her problem solved. However not everyone will have this possible solution. The longer the lockdown continues the more these sort of problems are going to continue.

For the third week in a row, I joined neighbours in the 8pm ‘Clapping for Keyworkers’. Once again I took my hand bell outside to ring. Each week more and more neighbours are joining in, and it is lovely to see them all and to wave across the street. We are able to speak to our nearest neighbours briefing after the clapping has ended and before we go back inside.

Day 40
Friday 24th April
The main story on the Breakfast News was about the new Government website where keyworkers can book the coronavirus tests, had crashed very soon after opening due to the huge demand and the fact that they had run out of both home testing kits and time slots for the drive through testing stations. The media were critical of Government planning, but personally I think it is a sign of success that so many want to have the tests and to know if they have virus or not. I am sure that each day more home test kits and more time slots will become available, and that over the week we build numbers of those tested and may even reach the targets set by Government. Let’s not blame others, or jump to conclusions about if something new is working or not, let’s allow time for things to settle and therefore to begin to work as hoped for.

Garry has almost finished the kitchen but just has a few more things to do, after failing to buy the things on Wednesday, he decided to try another DIY shop a little further from home. This one only had a very short queue to get in and had excellent social distancing measures in place, so Garry was able to get the bits he needed, a new washing up bowl as ours had developed some holes, and even some paint ready for painting the kitchen and lounge walls. Garry commented that decorating supplies are in just as much short supply as baking supplies as everyone is trying to keep themselves busy and to use their time to achieve ‘something’.

The day was fairly normal in terms of self isolation routines, but it turns out the 3 of us were all feeling far from normal. We were all experiencing the knock on effects of spending so much time at home and in each other’s company. For the last 40 days, none of us have been able to do ‘our own thing’ in terms of hobbies and interests, and in terms of spending time with those outside our household – and tensions were rising – although none of us spoke about this and all ‘bottled it up’ trying subconsciously to protect each other. This is particularly true of myself, as I have been trying to be everything to everyone, and being the ‘middle man’ between my husband and my grandson. Both husband and grandson find it hard to understand things from the other person’s point of view; both have their own anxieties about life from their own personal life experiences; and both have anxieties around coronavirus. Being ‘piggy in the middle’ is not always easy, explain the why’s to them both can be challenging – and to be honest at times I feel like I am banging my head on the wall and often repeating myself so they both consider how the other might be feeling, and asking themselves if now is a good time to raise an issue, or even just to ask a question.

Things came to a head during Saturday evening, basically because despite feeling unwell over several weeks I had pushed myself too much so I could support the men in the household. I felt that I could not cope, and so did what I always do and withdrew from family life and cried a lot. Words were had between Garry and myself but after a few hours we had sorted the core issues and we had worked out why things had come to a head.

In my opinion no one was at fault, it was just the result of a number of extra pressures on us all, due to the circumstances we (and many others) found ourselves in.

Although we were able to talk about our issues and to think of solutions, for some families this will not be possible. In these circumstances it is vital support is sought from professionals and charities.

If STAYING AT HOME is not possible due to violence or threats then you must leave your home to get support.

Day 41
Saturday 25th April
A bit of a different day today, after the emotional crash of yesterday evening I decided I needed a ‘chill day’ – and some space / time to myself. So I took my knitting, my laptop and phone into our motorhome which is parked on our drive. I also took a cold drink and some Jelly Babies sweets. Over the day Garry came and joined me at various times bring coffee with him.

Although I had to go back into the house to use the toilet (the one in motorhome was not set up to use) and to make my lunch, I actually spent most of the day in the motorhome, and have to admit the slightly different view through the window, and time to myself, made a big difference to my mood and well being

I was in the motorhome when we had a surprised visit from my Dad. Although it was lovely to see him, we were left feeling very worried for 2 reasons. First Dad has lost his hearing and could not grasp what Garry was trying to tell him about us self isolating. Dad questioned why I was not coming in to speak to him, and again Garry tried to get him to understand. Dad not only invited himself into the house, he also tried to get into the motorhome. As a result of this unplanned visit my Dad has through his lack of understanding, and difficulty in hearing put all of us at risk as he may be carrying the virus even though he was not showing any signs of having the virus. After all our efforts and self limits for the last 6 weeks, Garry and I are now on tender hooks and will be for at least the next 14 days.

However we are also concerned about Dad’s ability to care for himself, and especially to still drive his car. If he can forget important things such as family self isolating will he also forget the rules of the road? There are other things that worry me about Dad’s ability to look after himself but this is not the place to discuss those worries. I am going to have to think how I can support Dad myself, or how I can get some support from others.
I did not watch the Downing Street briefing or the news – although Garry did tell me that the total numbers of deaths is now over 20,000 – the figure that had scared me at the beginning of the lockdown is now a reality.

My different day ended with a fish and chip tea ordered from one of our local chip shops who delivered it to our doorstep. I came into the house to eat tea, and afterwards watched some TV with Garry, watching a few episodes of a series we enjoy.

I went to bed slightly later than normal and fell asleep almost straight away.

Day 42
Sunday 26th April
Although I went straight to sleep, I did not stay asleep and tossed and turned before getting up at around 1.30 am, I knew what the problem was and for once it was not pain that was keeping me awake – it was worry and my Dad. I knew I was going to have to email him (as there was no point trying to phone him because of his deafness, and due to self isolation I could not visit to explain in person).

It was a very hard email to right and my stress levels went through the roof – I mean how do you explain to your elderly father that he had put your family at risk when you know he had not done this intentionally? How do you explain he must not do this again? And how do you express your concerns about him still driving?

Very tricky but I had no choice, as the email had to be sent to help safeguard my Dad and ourselves.

I did some knitting before returning to bed at around 4.30 am. I did sleep, waking at 7.30am in pain as my morning dose of morphine was by then overdue. I took my tablets, had a cold drink and went back to sleep until 9.30am. I have to admit that when I got up, I really did not feel that good, a poor night’s sleep, pain and worry about my Dad, all combining to make me feel dreadful.

I spoke to my step sister by phone – she is my stepsister by marriage as her Mum married my Dad, but we do not share a birth parent. My stepsister is as concerned as I am, but equally unsure what to do. Her Mum is in a care home as she needs professional support, and we both thought Dad might like to join his wife in the same care home but he has recently made it clear that he does not want to do this. The problem we now have is we cannot visit him and he cannot hear us to have a phone conversation about his personal wishes. We decided that on Monday I would phone Dad’s doctors surgery for advice, as a starting point. Something else I am not looking forward to doing but it has to be done despite my feeling that I am overstepping my role.

Garry and I had our morning coffee in the garden and we actually found it a bit too hot and had to change where we were sitting!

The rest of the day was fairly relaxed with each of us keeping ourselves busy. I actually did a bit of cooking and made a cottage pie, which we ate later for our tea.

We spoke to our second daughter on the phone and I told her about the issues with my Dad (her granddad of course) and she said she would do some research tomorrow to try and find out what I needed to do to support Dad and to put things in place for the future (such as Power of Attorney). This helped to reduce my stress because although not her area of expertise our daughter is used to examining legal documents and advice documents, and so is much better at such things than me.

Day 43
Monday 27th April
An early start to the day, so did some ironing and then watch some Breakfast news. The debate about if the public should wear cloth facemasks when leave their homes, continues and there is still a divide in opinion.

Garry and I chatted about if we should go shopping this morning as it is Monday, but we decided we have enough for at least today and so would do the shopping tomorrow or even on Wednesday. We also talked about if we should both go out to a local shop to buy things for the garden, bird food, and a few others items we need but decided that not essential and so silly to put ourselves at risk – especially me.

Mid-morning I made a phone call my Dads doctors surgery, his doctor was not working today, but they said another doctor would phone me between 3 and 3.30pm, which they did. The doctor I spoke to was very understanding and said due to the pandemic lots of families were in similar situations to us. Due to self isolation many elderly people were now living alone and without the support network of family and friends. The doctor said he would try to get some support for my Dad either via the Governments Coronavirus support scheme for the elderly / vulnerable or from a voluntary organisation. I was reassured that something could be put in place – even if only until myself and my step sister were able to end our self isolation and support him ourselves.

Later on in the day, I received a phone call from our grandson’s social worker – nothing to worry about but some concerns had been raised about his ability to keep himself safe during these stressful and difficult times. The social worker wanted to visit but I explained that was not appropriate due to us self isolating. After a discussion with her manager, the social worker phoned back to say that in the circumstances we could discuss by phone. She spoke to me briefly reassuring me that they thought our grandson was still safe in our care, and furthermore this was still the best placement for him. It might sound a bit odd that our grandson is spoke about in such terms but it must be remembered that he is now a ‘looked after child’ and in our care for his wellbeing. It was arranged that the social worker would phone back the next day and speak to us and our grandson.

I find it reassuring that safeguarding concerns are still being investigated, but also that a reasonable amount of common sense is being use. The social worker did tell me they have full PPE available should a home visit be deemed essential.

Due to the various phone calls, I did not watch the Downing Street briefing, but did pick up on a news programme that the number of daily deaths were reduced – as we now expect on Mondays due to the way the data is collected.

Day 44
Tuesday 28th April
I decided to send my Dad an email to tell him I had spoken to the doctor and that hopefully some support would be put in place for him. I decided to do this so Dad expected a phone call or a visit. I would have preferred to tell him in person or maybe by phone call but neither were an option, so email was the only choice.

Garry went off to do the weekly shop as we did not have enough food in the house to last until Wednesday. He managed to get everything we needed and quite a few treat items, as we are finding we are all constantly looking in the cupboards / fridge and freezer for ‘something nice’ and are getting through far more treats and snacks than we normally would. Talking to friends online and reading via social media I know we are not the only family finding we want more treats. There are even online jokes that once the lockdown ends none of us will be able to fit through our front doors!

We did receive a phone call from our grandson’s social worker, during the afternoon, and she spoke to both me and our grandson at length. I am not going to go into details about the concerns raised as it is not appropriate to do so. However, as the social worker values my professional knowledge and the support we are able to give our grandson, we were able to discuss and unpick what had happened and why. Our shared conclusion was that our grandson had had a sub conscious memory trigger which had taken him back to a bad time in his life and therefore without any conscious understanding of why, he had reverted to some past behaviours. The social worker then discussed some support that could be put in place to help our grandson with these deep memories of negative past experiences, but on the day to day support he needs, the social worker agree that Garry and I are more than capable of supporting him, and that the evidence is that we are making a huge difference to our grandson.

I sort of watched the usual Downing Street briefing, in that it was on but I was not in the room. However I did pick up that as now expected the number of recorded deaths had risen after the reduced amount of reporting of the very sad facts over the weekend.

Day 45
Wednesday 29th April
Some good news – the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds have a healthy baby boy. It must have been a very stressful time for them in the weeks before the birth with both of them having coronavirus and the Prime Minister spending time in intensive care.

Today I finished knitting a bobble hat for one of our granddaughter’s and sent her a video of me wearing it. She sent a video back saying she loved the hat but was a bit worried it would be too big because it fitted me

As a result of the various phone calls about my Dad and our grandson, I am feeling a little overwhelmed and struggling with daily life. This is to be expected as my long term health issues impact on everything including my ability to cope with anything ‘extra’. However the ‘pre ill’ me overrides everything and I put 110% into supporting others even though I know at some point there will be a payback in terms of pain or in being able to continue with this level of support for others. This is particularly true during the coronavirus pandemic as we are all dealing with extra worry and trying to support each other, especially family members.

I watched the Downing Street briefing and noted there has been a charge to how they count and record the deaths. If I have understood correctly all deaths related to COVID-19 will now be included. However during the briefing several different numbers were used / displayed on the screen, and I admit I ended up a bit confused

Day 46
Thursday 30th April
NHS fundraiser Captain Tom’s 100th birthday is being celebrated by the country, and I watched some of coverage on Breakfast TV. Captain Tom has now raised £30 million, although he only set out to raise £1,000 by walking 100 laps of his garden pushing his rollator. What an amazing, inspirational man who is so modest and determined to thank others. In these really difficult pandemic times, Captain Tom has lifted our spirits and given us hope that humankind will not only overcome this virus but will also through kindness and coming together be better than we were before all of this.

The day was spent mainly knitting and watching a bit of TV. I completed the 20th hat for the premature babies

Tonight I retired to bed early at just after 7pm, I had really wanted to stay up for the now regular Thursday 8pm clapping – but sometimes despite really wanting to do something, I have to accept my limits. In my case I think the ‘payback’ from the extra stress around my Dad and my grandson has started to kick in.

I know I am not the only person who has limits and for whom it is very difficult to come outside and stand on their front doorstep or at their window to give heart felt claps. I am not sure everyone understands the feelings of isolation and ‘not doing your bit’ that occur for those whose physical / mental limits mean they cannot take part in such things. In my experience it is bad enough in ‘normal times’ to feel excluded but in these difficult times it is even harder to accept you cannot do certain things.

On the positive Garry and our grandson went out to clap. I was proud of my grandson as he finds social things more difficult than many others, and after the shock of concerns being raised about him, he has done well to come out and clap with his granddad and the neighbours.

Day 47
Friday 1st May
Despite not feeling 100% or even 75% well this morning, I decided I really needed to motivate myself to tackle having a shower and more importantly wash my hair. I have mentioned in previous entries how hard it is to have a shower and wash my hair. I can manage to keep myself clean on a daily basis by having a ‘proper wash’ standing at the hand basin but washing my hair is more of an issue as my hair is now rather long. Before the lockdown I had been thinking I should have my 2 yearly haircut, but I had not got round to doing so, which means my hair is now too long for me to manage as I cannot easily brush it and nor can I wash it quickly. So after breakfast, and after Garry had returned from walking the dog (so he could come to my aid if he needed to) I hauled myself into the bath using the grab rails. Standing on the anti-slip bathmat and hanging on to the grab rail with one hand, I managed to wash my hair and have a shower, despite being very unsteady on my feet and shaking from the ankles upwards. I always feel better about myself once I have had a shower but also always feel shattered – as was the case today.

I made some cakes to go with our morning coffee, although I admit making 23 cakes was a few too many for the 3 of us. Making the cakes turned out to be a step too far, and pushed me over the edge of coping and not coping.
One thing I wanted to achieve was to post the hats that I have knitted for premature babies for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Normally I would pass my charity knitting onto the local knitting group that I belong to, but since I started self isolation this has not been possible, and so today the 20 hats I have knitted recently were taking to the Post Office by Garry. I am pleased with my achievement but will not stop now, and have given myself a target of 20 hats per month.

I have started knitting a hooded jacket for our expected new grandson that will fit him next winter. This will be my first hooded jacket and so will be a challenge.

As before when I am under the weather, I really did not give two hoots about the news around coronavirus and did not watch the news or the Downing Street briefing, and in any case much of the day was spent napping in my chair and bed while my body tried to cope with the ‘payback’.

Day 48
Saturday 2nd May
The less about today the better as far as I am concerned, as today is the day when everything became too much and I ‘crashed and burned’. 
Tomorrow is another day and I hope it is a better day

Day 49
Sunday 3rd May
Luckily I did feel a bit better today and finished the back of the jacket for our expected grandson. It is a new pattern for me, but so far I am really pleased with it. I think rather than tackling the cable front panels, I will used this pattern all over.

Although feeling a bit better, I know from experience that I have to be careful not to overdo it on my recovery days. It is hard because there are so few days when I feel well enough to do things, and it is easy to be over motivated to do things. So today I knitted 2 premature baby hats towards my new target of 20 more hats by the end of May, and started a sleeve of the baby jacket. I also with help from Garry did quite a lot to the puzzle – so much we may even finish it tomorrow.

There was a highlight to our day, as our youngest daughter dropped some shopping to our porch and collect the bobble hat I finished earlier in the week, as well as the mittens for the baby that I made last week. Our daughter does not visit every week, as she is pregnant and therefore high risk herself.

I have noted that our granddaughter talks to us during video chats about ‘visiting our window’ and today was one of those days when the new ‘norm’ of visiting grandparents window happen, as she was with her mum. Our granddaughter now does not need to be told to stand back, as she was during the early days of the lockdown, as she now has a much better understanding of social distancing. She tried on her new bobble hat and was delighted it fitted (so was I, as I thought it might be a bit big), we also passed on a filled bubble wand passed on by our neighbour and sanitised by us. It was lovely to chat through the window for 10 mins and to see our daughter and granddaughter. Our daughter told us of problems she has had with getting the things for her hospital bag, but that she has now finally got most things she needs, which is good as now just 6 weeks before the due date. She has a growth scan of baby tomorrow and once we have details of the expected birth weight, I will set about making a jumper and a hat to fit him during his first couple of weeks in the world.

I did watch the Downing Street briefing which due to being poorly over the last couple of days was a bit of a catch up for me.

The total number of deaths now is shocking and heart breaking with so many losing their lives and so many mourning family and friends. I understand that Government now think we are past the peak, but all the talk about second waves, and that we might still need to use the Nightingale hospitals scares me. The questions about when and how lockdown will be eased also scares me because I know people are desperate to resume their ‘normal lives’ but the possibility that people will not respect the new rules for a gradual easing of restrictions is a big worry to me, as we know some already have the attitude that the rules don’t apply to me.

I think the Government can reduce the restrictions and I totally agree that it should happen slowly and be based on science and medical knowledge but the worry of a second spike and therefore more deaths is frightening.

Please, please everyone listen to advice given and STAY HOME for as long as we are advised to do so, to keep us ALL SAFE.

As and when restrictions are eased please, please be sensible for your own wellbeing and that of others.

A saying comes to mind – ‘Where fools rush in ….’
Don’t be a fool or we will all pay the price of a second lockdown and more deaths.

Day 50
Monday 4th May
Well another week that we are all required to STAY AT HOME as much as possible, to protect ourselves, our communities, our NHS and to help save lives. By tonight I will have been self isolating for 50 days, and during that time I have hardly left the house – just a few ‘Distance Coffee’s’ on my neighbours drive; 1 visit to stand 2 meters from granddaughters to sing Happy Birthday to one of them; a few (not as many as I expected) short strolls with my rollator or very short rides on my bike. There have also been a few ‘window chats’ with family who have dropped things to our porch.

Of course from the comfort of my home I have enjoyed some video calls, and phone calls, plus connection via social media and emails – but on the whole I have done as advised by the government’s medical advisors and STAYED AT HOME, despite my personal desire to gather together with family and friends, to hug and chat face to face; to travel to visit family who live in different parts of the country; to go out for coffee or lunch; to visit local towns and browse in charity shops- and to actually use our motorhome which since we have owned it ( apart from 1 x 2 day trip out in it before lockdown) has sat on our drive.

So it has not been easy but I personally think we all have a duty to do as we are told, so that restrictions can be started to be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so. Some good news from the Downing Street briefing today, is that the government are trying out a new App that they hope will help with ‘Test, Trace and Track’ efforts to control the spread of the virus. The App is being tested on the Isle of Wight, and if successful will be extended to the whole country.

Some hope that we will be able to lift a few restrictions fairly soon. While I hope this is the case, I am also a little worried that restrictions will be lifted too quickly, or that people will not abide by the new restrictions thinking the peak is over and so they can do what they like. My fear is we will have a second peak and that we will have to go back to strict restrictions for a longer period of time.
I realised during some personal reflection that I have not been very good at giving feedback or updates on things I have mentioned in these diary entries, so this week I will try to provide some feedback.

First of that feedback is the health of the family members who we suspect have had Covid 19. They have still not been tested, but it would seem they did have it, and certainly were fatigued for a long time after the main symptoms had gone. However, good news as those family members are now back to good health and no longer relying on others to help with things like shopping.

First thing this morning, Garry took our car for an MOT, it was quite easy to arrange – one phone call to a local test station, an appointment made for a few days’ time (as the MOT tester only comes into work when there are appointments for MOT’s). Government have said if you can’t get your car a new MOT you can have up to 6 months to get one done. Considering the ease with which we got an appointment, I wonder if people are taking the easy option and not even trying to get an appointment.
Good news for us – our 13 year old car passed the MOT, so one less thing to worry about.

Straight after the MOT Garry went to do the weekly shop, and this week as well as getting just about everything we needed, and a good selection of treat things, he brought me an extra treat – 4 huge balls of knitting wool. He did phone from the shop to ask what colours I would like, but I was impressed that he thought to buy wool for me. The amount of wool I now have (new wool, donated wool, wool brought for my birthday, and wool I have brought myself) will last for months and should keep me out of trouble – and stop me getting bored!

Next job on Garry’s list was to change the battery on our other car – which is a 19 year old BMW Z3 we brought as a fun car to celebrate his retirement. Garry phoned his old workplace to order a battery and then went to pick it up via safe social distancing.

Our grandson who will be studying Level One motor mechanics at college, came out to help Garry and to learn from the experience. Our grandson’s progress with home school during the pandemic is one of the things I have not mentioned as much in the last few weeks.

To be honest the lack of feedback has been due to the lack of educational activity in recent weeks. As readers will know, he has been reluctant to even think about doing the tasks set by school – yes he has done a few but has lost motivation, in part because the online courses have not worked as well as they need to. With other things such as his catering and art qualification, he really can’t see the point in completing them as he does not want to follow these up at college and in his opinion the qualifications are not worth having. I tend to agree with him – apart from Maths (but this is the online one that is not fully working). I do have a very relaxed and holistic view of education and personally think life skills are more important than qualifications that tick boxes but do nothing for future independence or employment.

So over the last few weeks our grandson has spent most mornings in bed – which is something he needed to do for his wellbeing after the stress of moving to live with us and the stress of attending school. His current school is the best he has attended and the one he has stayed longest at, but it is not without its stresses due to his Asperger’s and difficulties with understanding social contexts – and the long taxi journey every day to get to his specialist school. So I fully understand his need to relax and remove built up stress.

Afternoons were spent going for a bike ride; using his weights; playing his guitar; listening to music and chatting to me and Garry; and communicating with peers via social media – all educational in their own way but not traditional academic studying.

Alongside the above we have been working on his independence skills, telling time; looking after his belongings and ours; eating and drinking appropriately; putting his washing in laundry bin and much more including talking slower and clearer; and listening to our views especially when different to his – not because we are right and he is wrong but because he needs to recognise we have different views and he needs to respect those views – and we his.

Having said all that – our patience and understanding, our holistic view and lack of pressure have started to bring about change in him. We knew it would over time, and on the whole we had confidence that he would benefit from our approach – but even I have had moments of doubt over the home schooling period, and Garry has had more doubts than me, as he has put his trust in my deeply held beliefs, and my knowledge of child development – and what children need in order to thrive.

However, today after watching and helping Garry to change the battery, our grandson was motivated to do a bit more and further his own learning experiences. He wrote about batteries and changing them in an exercise book, and even added an index. He followed this up with looking in some text books which he has brought himself to support his college course, to make sure his knowledge of batteries is comprehensive.

These small but vitally important changes in his attitude and motivation give me encouragement to continue with my gut feelings around home schooling.

As it was a lovely warm afternoon, I had a ‘distance coffee’ with my neighbour - as usual sat on my own chair, with my own drink, on her drive.

Garry mowed our lawn, and a little while later once my neighbour was inside her house, he entered her garden via the back gate, and using his own equipment (and wiping the gate latch) mowed her lawn. It is important that we all find ways to help each other whilst observing social distances and being careful to take measures to avoid spreading this dreadful virus.

I continued with knitting the hooded green jacket for the expected new baby, and also knitted a couple of hats towards my next target of premature baby hats.

Day 51
Tuesday 5th May
This morning Garry was up early, and as prearranged he woke our grandson, as they were going on a ‘camera walk’ as part of their daily exercise. They did have to drive a short distance but were able to park away from other cars. They were also able to maintain a social distance from others taking their daily exercise. When they got home, Garry gave our grandson a short Photoshop tutorial to make the most of the images they had taken.

I was able to report this mornings’ educational activity, and the improvement in our Grandson’s attitude and motivation to his tutor when she phoned mid-morning. It was very pleasing when she said she was really pleased and that my information had ‘made her day’.

During the afternoon, I had a phone call from a friend. I have known this friend for a long time, but had lost touch for a few years. We were reunited by a mutual friend before the pandemic and had met up a few times. My friend also joined the same knitting group as me and we had attended a couple of knitting sessions together before the lockdown was established. I was determined not to lose touch again – especially as like me my friend has some long term health issues, so I had texted her a few times since lock down started just to ask how she was, and to ask if she had managed to do any knitting. It was my friend’s idea to phone me. We had a lovely long chat, reflecting on our shared past, and about our now grown up children and our grandchildren. We discussed health issues and family members – including how we are coping with self isolation. In short it was a wide ranging discussion but the one thing we did not discuss was our knitting! As my friend said goodbye she mentioned this and said’ ‘oh well we will discuss knitting next time’.

I did watch the Downing Street briefing and was very saddened to see that now they are counting deaths ‘in all settings’ that the number of deaths is nearly 30,000. That is nearly 10,000 over the figure of 20,000 that I feared at the beginning of the pandemic. I am worried about just how many deaths there will be in the end when we have finally beat this horrid virus. Each death is tragic and behind the numbers will be heartbroken family and friends whose lives will have been changed for ever.

During question time from public and media there were lots of questions about reducing restrictions including schools re opening and manufacturing getting going again. We were told that the Prime Minister would set out the ‘road map’ for the changes in a speech planned for later in the week, but it was made clear the changes would be very small and that we needed to be careful not to cause a second peak in deaths. Something I for one want to avoid.

Day 52
Wednesday 6th May
I decided that I would spend today in our motorhome on our drive, pretending I was on holiday. Of course I would only be going somewhere ‘in my head’ but it looked like it was going to be a lovely day with blue skies and sunshine. In my head I decided I would pretend to be in Cornwall (one of the places we had hoped to take our motorhome to if coronavirus had not happened). So I took drinks, snacks, my laptop, my phone and my knitting into our motorhome, and have to admit it was lovely sitting there with the roof light fully open and music playing on the radio. Throughout the day Garry popped in with hot drinks and for a chat, but did not stay long as he had decided to paint the lounge. We have not been able to get more paint because I am not going anywhere at the moment and Garry did not want to decide on the colour on his own, however we did have a lot of magnolia paint left from the kitchen and so decided to paint the lounge in magnolia to freshen it up. Once the pandemic is over we will re paint the lounge in a colour we both agree on.

Being Wednesday it was the day for the weekly video call with 2 of my friends, and just after 10.30 my phone rang. One of my friends had forgotten about our call and so was out on a walk with her dog while we were talking. This was a bonus as I could see the lovely countryside she was walking in – it was almost like being on the walk with her and chatting while we walk. People will be aware that due to health reasons, I just cannot go for walks in the countryside, in the best of times, sometimes in the past I have been able to plan a trip out using my mobility scooter by sticking to even ground and paths, but since lockdown this has not been possible for several practical reasons. Therefore I really enjoyed ‘looking in’ on my friends walk. The three of us chatted for 10 mins or so, but I had to cut the call short because my mum had phoned my landline (which Garry brought into the motorhome for me) just before my mobile rang – and I had told her I would ring back in a few minutes.

I phoned my mum back and we chatted about knitting and knitting patterns. My mum has always knitted, and these days it is one of the ways she keeps busy. I have been able to knit since childhood having been taught by both my mum, and her mum (my Nan) who was also a very active knitter, but until recently I had rarely knitted. Yes I knitted a few things when my children were babies, and a few things for the grandchildren – but not many as I was a slow knitter and prone to making mistakes. However, since becoming ill I have taken to knitting as way to help pass time and by being busy to distract from the constant pain. We also talked about what we had been doing, and I was pleased that mum is managing to go for a walk most days with a friend who lives in the same block of apartments

Another subject I have not given feedback on is the outcome of seeking support for my dad – and this is something I also needed to discuss with mum. My parents separated when I was 19, so a long time ago, but they have remain in touch with occasional phone calls and even a few visits to each other, however due to distance between where they now both live it is not often.

I told mum (and are now telling you) about my attempt to help dad by trying to get him some support with shopping and someone to visit and check up on him while neither I, or my step sister can, did not go down well with dad and he does not think he needs support. Further he was annoyed (even cross) with me for what he called interfering. Sadly everyone except dad realises he now gets confused about things, forgets things and as a result of both these things makes poor decisions – including the one that he thinks he does not need support. Until dad admits he needs help OR someone official judges he needs support there is very little I can do now. I have informed his GP of the situation and now need to trust the safeguarding system for the elderly works.

As I spent most of the day in the motorhome knitting I have made good progress with both the green hoody baby jacket, and with the premature baby hats. I actually feel I have achieved something today.

Today was the day when during the Downing Street briefing we were told the numbers of deaths are now officially over 3000 – very sobering news. The charts show that numbers of new cases of Covid19 and numbers of people in critical care beds have fallen but it seems to me that this could change direction at any time if people do not follow the rules – and looking at the chart showing motor vehicle use, people are going out in their cars more, so possibility of the virus spreading have increased.

During the briefing there was more talk about reducing restrictions, and more reassurances that the Prime Minister would give more details on Sunday. Some of the press were concerned that as we have a Bank Holiday weekend coming up, with good weather predictions, that there was a risk people would think ‘so restrictions will be lifted on Monday so we might as well go out and enjoy ourselves this weekend’. I really hope this does not happen as all the progress made so far could be wiped out, and we will all have to endure lockdown / self isolation for much longer.

Day 53
Thursday 7th May
After yesterday’s success of spending the day in the motorhome pretending I was on holiday, I decided to do the same today – but this time, my in my head pretending was that I was in the Lake District, another favourite destination that fingers crossed we will be able to actually visit before the end of the year.

Garry took opportunity to cut the hedges on our neighbours drive, and she gave instructions to him from a safe distance, this meant I had something to look at out of the motorhome window; and I was able to chat to my neighbour by opening the window of the motorhome. My neighbour loves the idea of a pretend holiday and joins in with my pretending by asking questions about my pretend holiday.

Today I had a few problems with the left front of the hooded baby jacket but eventually sorted out the problem and finished the left front – meaning I have now completed the back, both sleeves and the left front – plus another premature baby hat.

During the afternoon I phoned my good friend, and surprised her as the first time I have beaten her to making the call. We chatted freely about wide ranging issues and because I trust my friends knowledge and experience, I told her about my dad because deep down I am still worried and concerned that I should (and could) do more. My friend agreed with what my mum had said yesterday which was I can’t help dad if he does not want my help. I felt reassured but I do still have a ‘back of my mind’ concern about his wellbeing.

I decided not to watch the Downing Street briefing because once again I felt near ‘overload’ point both from the depressing figures and from the constant repetitive questions from the media.

Day 54
Friday 8th May
75 years since VE day, and as a country we had hoped before coronavirus to have a big celebration with Street Parties, music, special performances and more, but of course we have all had to cancel or scale down our celebrations. Our street is not in the habit of organising such things, and so although we do gather on our door steps to clap for keyworkers on Thursdays, nothing was planned for today.

However, Garry had an idea, and before I was ready for the day, he had pulled the canopy out on the motorhome and secured it in place; he put out the smaller of our awning carpets and put our camping chairs and table on top of the carpet – then called me to see what he had done. I was impressed and brought out my knitting so I could enjoy sitting outside just as we would if on holiday. Our grandson joined us and asked if he could use the camping stove to cook some bacon for a butty, with approval he proceeded to cook his breakfast. Meanwhile Garry made us some coffee. Garry mentioned it would be even better if we had some Union Jacks – so I disappeared into the garage, returning with some small hand held flags (left over from my childminding days) and Garry managed to attach them to the frame of the canopy. I text my neighbour and suggested she came to the front of our drive to see what we had done. She came to look and standing at a safe social distance we had a little chat. Meanwhile Garry had been in the garage and had found a large England flag and a Worcestershire which we had from our caravanning days when our children were younger. He attached the flags to a fishing pole, and then attached the pole to the ladder on the back of the motorhome.

We ended up spending most of day sat outside the motorhome, enjoying the sunshine and just relaxing, chatting and in my case knitting. We joined our neighbours in standing for the 2 minute silence in respect for those who lost their lives in World War 2, and for those who ‘did their bit’ to ensure we could all have freedom and live in peace. I did go in the motorhome during the afternoon, for a rest - much as I would have if we were on holiday.

In the evening we watched the TV coverage of Street Parties and other celebrations, and then at 9pm we watched the Queen address the nation.

All in all an excellent day and as I went to bed, I realised that I had not even thought about what was happening with the pandemic – and certainly had not considered that the pandemic had spoilt my day or hindered how I celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.

Day 55
Saturday 9th May
I have purposefully not mentioned my health much this week, as although a big part of me now and my health does have a huge impact on what I can and can’t do, I realise it must be pretty boring for people to keep reading about my health. This week has had the usual ‘ups and downs’, but today has been very difficult as the pain has been much worse and my physical ability much worse with lots of wobbling and inability to stand or walk.

I decided to do nothing much during the morning – but I did knit one more premature baby hat. I have a little ‘game’ with one granddaughter in that when she does a video call she tries to guess how many hats I have knitted and then we count them together by me holding each hat up to the camera in turn and she counts. I am expecting a video call tomorrow and as it will be the first time she has ‘counted’ the hats, since I sent 20 hats to the children’s hospital, I wanted to have quite a few for her to count. The counting of hats is now part of our self isolation routines and important to both of us. When she counts the hats tomorrow there is a little surprise for her, as I have knitted a special grey hat with white ribbing which is not so send to the hospital but for her baby brother – so she will count the total number of hats then have to subtract one, so she knows how many hats are for the hospital. This is easily within her mathematical ability but I want to see if she works out she needs to do this.

Just after lunch time I decided to do my knitting in the motorhome because the seats in there are even more comfy than the chairs in the house including my nursing home style high back chair. However today I had a few issues as every time I (or Max the Lab or Garry or our grandson) moved the resulting movement in the motorhome ricocheted right though my body causing even more pain. I tried not to cry out loud as I did not want to make a fuss or cause them to think they could not come in the motorhome, but it was hard and I found myself grimacing rather a lot.

I also had trouble with my knitting! As mentioned before I am making a hooded jacket for the next grandson in a lovely green wool and I have completed the back, both sleeves and the left front. I did have a little difficulty with the left front as I am not following the pattern for a cable front but instead continuing the pattern from the back and sleeves, so it was not surprising I made a few mistakes with the armhole. I unpicked my mistakes and so although a bit more time consuming I ended up with the pattern I wanted. However, with the right front I had multiple problems with the ribbing – not a problem I expected because although I am not a skilled knitter, ribbing is something I can usually do. Despite unpicking the ribbing 3 times, I am still not 100% happy with it, but to be honest I had reached the end of my tether with it – maybe because of the extra pain and difficulties today. So how it is now, is how it is going to stay. I hope my daughter will still like the finished jacket (still quite a lot to do before I finish it), it will still keep baby warm, despite the now slight difference in the ribbing on the right front.

During a break from knitting I checked my phone for emails and spotted one from my friend and colleague Juls. That in itself was not unusual as we do exchange emails and of course Juls publishes these self isolation diaries on the EY Matters website BUT this particular email had the heading ‘A present …..’

Juls had grabbed my attention with that heading and I clicked to open it …… oh my goodness what a wonderful surprise. Juls had carried out one of my biggest wishes and had created a new website for me! She knew I was disappointed that I had had to close my ‘Pennysplacechildminding’ blog site, and indeed she had kindly put all my blogs from that site into word format before I closed my site, so that they were safe for if I could use them in the future. As it happens my replacement blog site ‘What do you think Penny?’ had changed from free to use to having a small monthly fee putting it beyond my current financial situation, and a disappointment because it was the fees that had caused me to close my previous site.

So although carrying out my wishes, Juls had been working without my knowledge to create a wonderful new site, and it was a complete surprise to see the ‘in progress’ site. Juls has used material from my original site and put it on my new site – it was wonderful to see my work once again available to all, to read.

In fact seeing it and thinking of Jul’s doing this for me, made me cry – tears of happiness and gratitude of course, but I did need a few tissues. I rang Juls straight away to thank her, in a way it was good that she could not take the call as I was a bit overcome with emotions. I went into the house to tell Garry what Juls had done for me – and those emotions got the better of me.

Juls rang me later as soon as she was able to do so. She told me our mutual friend Laura had asked yesterday if it would be possible to make some blogs I wrote about a trip to Germany in May 2016 to re discover Froebel, available online as of course they could not be accessed via my closed blogsite. This had made Juls realise that it would be possible via my new site and so now was a good time to tell me what she had been working on – hence the ‘A present …’ heading to the email. While chatting to Juls we discussed how the site could be used in the future …… and this lifted my spirits as I realise that as and when I was well enough I could once again share my opinion and thoughts with others either via linking to ‘stuff’ I wrote many years ago – or indeed new ‘stuff’.

Although good news for me – you may be wondering why I have included within these self isolation diaries. Well actually for several reasons:

  • Never give up on your hopes and dreams. Sometimes things seem impossible and certainly in these pandemic times many of us will be worrying about the future and if things will ever return to normal, and also if our dreams will be possible considering the impact lockdown will have had on our personal and professional plans.
  • Don’t underestimate acts of kindness (small or large) and the impact these will have on others. Creating this website was a huge undertaking by Juls but the act of kindness by creating it in secret to surprise me is something we can all do for friends and family. So a card through the post; a phone call that was not planned; some flowers or a plant or a small gift left on a doorstep; lending a book or a puzzle – anything really that is a surprise, and brings a smile to someone. This is true all the time but particularly true during these pandemic times
  • Remember small acts of kindness also applies to how you treat people – including your own family. Be kind in your words and actions, because people are stressed and finding every day difficult in many different ways. Think about what you say and how you say it. Is now the right time to be critical or to insist on compliance with chores, school work and so on? Of course some things need to be done but how you ask, how you advise, how you offer help will make all the difference to how people feel – and at the moment (in my opinion) our mental wellbeing is of vital importance.

I did not watch the Downing Street briefing but through listening to the news on the radio which I listened to while in the motorhome, I knew there was a lot of speculation about the Prime Minister will announce tomorrow in terms of reducing the lockdown restrictions.

As an aside when our grandson returned from his bike ride, he was very annoyed as so many groups of families and friends out and about (far more than usual) and he said ‘Granny there will be a spike in deaths soon as all those people are going to spoil it for everyone else’. Sadly he may well be right.

So a mixed day – frustrations with my health and my knitting but also complete surprise and hope for the future via Jul’s act of kindness.

Plus Garry and I completed the third puzzle in the set we have been working on over the last few days.

Day 56
Sunday 10th May
Another bad night for me, but I was still on ‘a high’ as a result of yesterday. I got up a bit later because after drinking my coffee and juice that Garry brought upstairs for me (he often does this if I have had a bad night and not already downstairs – so an act of kindness) I actually nodded back off to sleep for almost an hour.
Once downstairs (but still in my PJ’s) I decided I needed a chill day and so a good time to catch up on these entries as due to an ‘up and down’ week although I had made notes to jog my memory I had not actually made the entries.

No knitting today but I did tackle a puzzle with Garry, this was the fourth one in the set we have been working on, but unfortunately we were unable to complete it because there were some pieces missing which is always a risk with second hand puzzles.

We watched the Prime Ministers speech about the ‘roadmap’ to lift the restrictions, and I have to admit I was left feeling confused and almost as if I had missed some information. I do understand the reasons for a phased lifting of restrictions and indeed this is what I personal want to happen. However the guidance was not very clear or even in my opinion very logical. It was stated that if people could not work from home, they should return to work tomorrow and they should not use public transport due to social distancing rules – but in my opinion there is a lot to be considered as not everyone will be able to put alternative travel arrangements in place at such short notice; not everyone can return to work as some places of work cannot reopen yet, plus some can’t put in place social distancing and many more considerations. Maybe it would have been better to have said ‘Employers need to let their employees know when they should return to work, and tell them of any changes such as to working hours if shifts are to be staggered or need to reduce days to enable everyone to return part time. Maybe there should be detailed guidance because the plan is so confusing. This does not directly affect Garry or myself but it seems very disorganised and open to misunderstanding by both employers and employees.

Day 57
Monday 11th May
A difficult night with very little sleep, however I did manage a couple of hours between 5am and 7am. I woke and took my medication and luckily nodded back off to sleep for another hour. Going downstairs I felt very sluggish and so watched some TV while drinking my morning coffee. It seems I am not the only one to have expressed concerns about what the Prime Minister said and didn’t say last night. We had news that a 50 page guidance document will be available at 2pm today, in my opinion this should have been made much clearer last night, so that people did not panic thinking (as I did) that they had somehow managed to miss the important detail. It also appears the PM made an error when he said people who could not work from home, would be encouraged to return to work from today – as minister were keen to point out that return to work where appropriate would be from Wednesday not today (Monday).

So I think the best thing we can all do is wait for the guidance, read it and then see if we had further questions.

I continued to feel sluggish all morning, and so did very little – just put on a load of washing, and started putting out the pieces for the next puzzle that we are going to tackle.

Garry went to do the weekly shopping and in fact went to 2 shops as he could not get everything we needed in one shop. This was normally the case before the pandemic and in fact we used to go to several different shops over the course of the week – and often linked to our visits to local towns and cafes. However, recently we have been managing with just the one main shop, supplemented with items that our daughters brought for us with their shopping.

Garry brought 2 important items for me at the second shop (plus a few items could not get in first shop), these 2 items were both for my neighbour, as tomorrow it is her birthday. Usually I would make a card for family and close friends birthday’s – but at the moment I am struggling to motivate myself – and to actually get my body to do anything in physical terms – so a brought card it was, chosen by Garry who did well with his choice of picture and verse. The second item was a lovely bunch flowers, which I had planned to take to her when we had our usual ‘distance coffee’ this afternoon. However, as the weather was becoming colder and colder, and really was far too cold for either of us to sit outside chatting, so I took the card and flowers round to her. I stood the required 2 metres distance and we chatted for a while – and made arrangements to have our coffee tomorrow on her birthday (weather permitting).

As I was sat in my chair, doing nothing much not even any knitting, I did watch some of the news about the guidance document from the Government. I have to admit I was even more confused about some things, and at a loss to understand the reasons for some other things. However I was I was feeling so ill I really did not have the energy to think too deeply about how the changes will impact on me and the country.

Day 58
Tuesday 12th May
Thankfully a better night’s sleep, although I still not feel that good when I got up. I watched some of the early morning news programmes, and to thought about how the changes will impact on me, my family and the country. I was pleased that people had until Wednesday if they are returning to work, but I still think that is not enough time for people to make new / different arrangements for travel to work, or for employers to make arrangements for social distancing and other measures.

One of the things I am really worried about is the planned return to school for certain year groups to start with. To me the year groups chosen make no sense, because although children are missing their friends, the social distancing requirements means the children will not be able to play in the way they are used to. Personally I cannot see any benefit for children to return to school for such a short period of time, because it takes time for children to learn new routines and to do things differently, and before they are fully used to it the term will be ending. Added to that I am not sure if the children will be able to socialise at parks, in the streets, or at each other’s houses during the summer holidays – or indeed if holiday clubs or childminders will have enough space to provide socially distanced holiday care for all that need it. So we risk children having some contact with other children for a few weeks and then having to cope with another change a few weeks later.

Children are going to have a lot of social and emotional needs when they return to school which will put added strain on teachers trying to meet those needs. Teachers will of course be worried about their own safety, and having to cover for staff who are being shielded.

In my opinion it does not make any sense to reopen schools now, and would be much better if schools remained closed until at least September. If it is possible for children to meet in small groups then it would be better if say in July children were allowed to play together at parks or at each other’s houses.

Support should be given to enabling holiday clubs, childminders and nurseries to provide care for children in small groups as parents return to work – especially as many will be returning part time. This way when children do return to school after the summer holiday period, children will be more prepared as will have already reconnected with friends, and will not face several major changes within a few months. The mental health of children is paramount because without it they will not be ready and able to learn when the pandemic is over. In not carefully we will create a situation much worse than it needs to be, and that will have a high costs to the children, the schools and society as a whole.

A parcel arrived for our grandson, as he has been unable to take part in his sporting activities (dodgeball and indoor climbing) we have saved quite a lot of expenditure as we have not been required to pay anything during the pandemic. I agreed that therefore our grandson could order some sporting equipment that he could use in the local area – he knew what he wanted – a longboard and gloves. I set him the job of doing the research into cost and quality, and once he had this information we agreed on which board and which gloves. These had been ordered last week, so he had not had to wait long. He had a little practice outside our house and then declared he was ready to take the board for a long test run – which he did. On his return he was tired, hot and had achy legs and ankles but he had no injuries for which I was very grateful.

Talking of our grandson, his school phoned today – 2 separate calls in fact. First one I took and spoke to the lady responsible for his pastoral care. Although our grandson is not doing the work set by school, he is doing his own project based work and developing his independence skills. We were praised for everything we are supporting our grandson with, and told that school are very pleased with his progress and that they think the skills he is developing, will be very useful as he prepares to move on to college in September (or whenever it is possible to do so). The second call was from his art teacher, and Garry happened to answer the phone that time. He had a long discussion connected to our grandson but not particularly connected to art. I find it reassuring that both teachers are concerned for his wellbeing and his life skills and not just about his academic achievement.

I did have a ‘distance coffee’ with my neighbour as the weather was lovely, we sat outside as usual chatting but for the first time I did accept a piece of homemade cake. My neighbour mentioned that since Monday she has been quite tearful and feels that the Government are not handling things very well, and in fact the new rules will make life difficult for her as there will be confusion and lack of understanding around things like why she could meet with me at park but I can’t go in her house or garden; that she could arrange to go by taxi to a garden centre but could not go in my car …. And much more.

Talking to other friends by phone or via social media, many are also reporting tearful days and indeed confusion about the new rules. I think many including myself are now struggling with the impact on us all from the pandemic – and at the same time worried that the number of deaths will increase.

As I sat having my coffee on my neighbours drive, I began to feel ‘a bit odd’ and I was struggling to stay focussed. Distance coffee’s only ever last about an hour due to time limit imposed by my bladder. So I said my goodbyes and headed the short distance home, pushing my rollator. By that point my eyes and nose were running, I was shaking and even more unsteady on my feet than I usually am – and the level of pain was rapidly increasing. I spoke briefly to Garry about feeling unwell and went straight upstairs to bed.

Two and a half hours of on and off sleep, I got back up but was feeling even worse. I could not think why I was feeling so ill and in so much pain – but then I had a light bulb moment and realised I had not taken my morning dose of morphine – and as it was now 5pm, that meant I had been 22 hrs without any morphine. No wonder I felt so ill and had so much pain. The feeling ill bit was actually morphine withdrawal, as I had in effect gone ‘cold turkey’.

So that was me for the rest of the day, I did of course take some quick release oramorph and then my usual evening dose of zomorph which is slow release, but to be honest I have no idea what was said on the news, even though it was on.

Day 59
Wednesday 13th May
Due to my mishap yesterday, today was bound to be a recovery day, and on waking after very little sleep, I felt terrible, although thankfully the pain was more manageable.

I messaged the friends I usually have a video call with on Wednesdays to tell them I would not be taking part. I also sent a couple of emails including one to Juls about my new website, as Juls has been working hard on getting it ready for the official launch. I knitted one prem hat but to be honest I did very little else as both mind and body were on a go slow.

My friend phoned me for our weekly chat but to be honest even this was too much for me and I had to cut the call short.

As the day progressed I did start to feel a bit more ‘with it’ but also very, very tired. No Downing Street briefing for me today, and once again I really did not give ‘Two hoots’ about the pandemic and the figures and charts.

I did watch a little bit of the local news and was interested in the opening of gardening centres as I hope to visit one in the next couple of weeks. Garry was interested in the opening of fishing pools, and again hopes to be able to do some fishing in the near future, but we both feel it is a bit too soon for us to risk crowded places even with social distancing.

One news item I was very interested in was the plans for reopening schools and childcare settings. As mentioned yesterday I don’t think it is a good idea and think schools should remain closed until at least September. I was horrified at the images from schools and childcare settings in other countries – is this what we want for the children of this country? I really, really hope not as it will cause far more trauma than staying at home for a bit longer. On a personal front I will not be sending our grandson back to school, and I know 2 of my daughters have decided their children will not be returning in June – and most likely not until September or whenever schools can open with no (or few) restrictions needed.

Also of interest to me is the fact that as of today childminders can reopen BUT only for the children from one family. What a difficult decision to make! How can childminders decide which family to offer this to? I know some parents have continued to pay their childminder during the pandemic so this will add to the difficulty of deciding which family to offer a place to during restricted opening measures. I am glad I am no longer a childminder and so not having to make these difficult decisions. To be honest I think if I was still a childminder, I would not open at all due to the risk to myself and family members. In my opinion it would be better to relax rules on family members visiting first (especially grandchildren), before opening childminder settings.

That impact on myself from yesterday and the recovery period today meant I was very tired and so it was early to bed for me

Day 60
Thursday 14th May
Although restrictions were eased slightly yesterday around going out more – as in you can take as much exercise outside as you wish, may meet with one person not from your household on a ‘one to one’ basis, may drive where ever you want to for exercise, may go fishing, play golf or tennis with your household, we did not do any of these things yesterday but we did make plans for today.

Our grandson who has not had any face to face contact with anyone from his age group (or indeed any age group) for over 7 weeks decided he would meet up with his cousin who is 16 like him, and who before the pandemic used to stay at our house for 3 nights a week to go to college. We agree this was acceptable as we know both boys very well and trust them to abide with social distancing.

We also know our eldest daughter (mum to other young person) has been very careful during the lockdown and so risk of the virus is small. And as an indicator of this, our daughter who works in a care home, along with all her colleagues had the result of her coronavirus test and she is negative.

The boys decided they would spend their time playing on the longboards which meant they could have fun but in effect be in their own space.

So this is what happened, on his return our grandson reported a fantastic day with his cousin, they had stuck to the plan, and had gone to a local supermarket to buy their lunch and taken it away from other people to eat.

Our grandson is very keen to do this again, and we have told him provided restrictions are not reinforced he can do it again but only on a weekly basis, so will be a treat to look forward to but will by not doing too often help reduce the risks to him and his cousin.

While our grandson was out Garry and I set off on our own little treat, which was planned for my benefit as not only have I been at home for over 7 weeks, I will not be able to take advantage of going out more for exercise or taking part in sporting activities due to my health. Garry does hope to be able to go fishing, and even to resume archery once the committee have done the risk assessment and put safety measures in place.

So for our treat we went in our Z3 with the hood down for a lovely drive in the beautiful countryside near where we live. It was a little chilly but we had the heating on (and the heated seats on) and were dressed appropriately and so were warm enough. We did not stop anywhere so did not put ourselves or other people at risk, but for us, and me particularly just been able to see, smell and hear everything we passed in our car was bliss. We shall follow the advice we have given our grandson and not over do this treat by limiting ourselves to one (maybe two) such trips a week.

After lunch I felt tired, as still recovering from Tuesday and so went upstairs for a nap where I slept on and off for just over 2 hours, so clearly needed.

I was up in time to watch the Downing Street briefing, and was pleased to see that the graphs are now showing clear improvement and moving in the right direction. However the increase in deaths is still very upsetting and far too high with each death meaning a loved one is no longer with their family, which will have a huge impact on that family in the coming months and years.

There were a lot of facts given about the transport improvements that have been made during lockdown. I have not seen any in my area but then I have not been out so improvement works could have been carried out without me knowing. I do hope improvements have been made as our road and rail systems need it.

There was also a lot of talk about testing and the number of tests carried out and the results – as mentioned before I know all the staff at the care home where my daughter works have been tested so I have proof that testing is now available to more people. They also talked about the new test to check if a person has had coronavirus as being a ‘game changer’ as currently we have no idea how many people have had it – including my family members who we think have had it but as were not tested we cannot be sure.

As before questions were asked by members of the public and the media. I prefer the questions by the public as much more valid, however one reporter did ask a question that I wanted to know the answer to – for selfish reasons. It was about camping and caravanning being resumed. The reporter asked that as camping and caravanning are outside based would campsites be able to reopen before hotels. The answer was ‘maybe’ but there was a much bigger picture to look at to consider the risks, but government would consider the issue. So I am going to have to wait a bit longer before I can start to plan a trip away in our motorhome.

Being Thursday night we joined our neighbours outside to clap for the keyworkers, it is nice to see everyone on their doorsteps / front gardens and to know they are all still OK.

Day 61
Friday 15th May
For the first time in a very long time I woke up feeling reasonably OK, which was surprising as I had not slept that well. Anyway not being one to miss an opportunity to do things while the going is good, I updated these diary entries before breakfast which meant that I was actually up to date with my self isolation diary – sometime else that has not happened for a long time as usually I spent Saturday and Sunday playing catch up.

After breakfast I decided to help Garry with a bit of gardening and rather than my usual 10 mins of light weeding, I helped with cut back an old and very overgrown bush on our front garden. This turned out to be a bigger job than I thought it would be, as underneath it was mainly dead and there was a huge accumulation of old leaves, sand off the drive, windblown rubbish and several entangled other plants that had self seeded over the years. Of course I was not able to do any heavy work but I was able to support Garry by holding the branches that needed cutting off, sweeping under the bush, and pushing the lighter stuff onto the spade for Garry to put in the wheelbarrow. I even carry a few lighter branches into the back garden (where Garry would later chop up and burn). However, it did exhaust me and created pain so after around 30 mins I decided enough was enough and went back into the house leaving Garry to finish the job. For me this was a major achievement and only possible because I was having a good day. It was lovely to feel I had helped in the garden, and had been physically active. I know many people have been spending hours in their garden both gardening and playing, which has been good for their wellbeing, but for me (and others who are less active) apart from the warmest days it has been too cold to sit still for long, or throughout the day as mornings and evenings have been quite cold.

I managed some knitting while Garry finished the gardening, and although progress is slow the hooded green jacket I am working on is now in the final stages. During the afternoon I made some fruited individual cakes, and did some more to the current puzzle. So all in all a busy and productive day.

Our grandson spent the morning in bed saying he ached everywhere, and declaring he would not be going out on his bike or on his longboard. However, after he had been up for a couple of hours, he decided at 3pm that he would go out ‘just for an hour Granny’ and off he went. Unsurprisingly when he came home his aches had got worse.

The Downing Street briefing was mainly about the support being given to care homes now and since the beginning of the pandemic. So to be honest I only half listened. However the discussion about the R rate rising was of interest to me, because although the rise was small it has only been 3 days since the reduced restrictions, and schools have not yet returned – so in my opinion things may get worse. There were some questions about concerns around school going back at the beginning of June, and we were told the Government scientists were holding an online meeting with education representatives.

Due to my (for me) busy day, I went to bed early.

Day 62
Saturday 16th May
I was grateful that this morning I woke feeling Ok, not brilliant but Ok, because I had booked something new to try from the comfort of my armchair.

The thing I had booked was an online conference via zoom organised in the name of BrewEdEY which is an early years based CPD opportunity organised and facilitated by volunteers. I had been booked to attend a face to face session in Birmingham in March 2020 but like everything else this had to be cancelled due to coronavirus. Therefore when I saw this online opportunity promoted on Twitter I booked my place. So this was to be my first BrewEdEY conference and my first experience of Zoom, I was a little bit worried because I am not good with IT, but put my confidence in the organisers and in particular in the Chair of the event Juls Davies of EYMatters.

I am not going to write at length here about my experience of CPD via Zoom as (health permitting) I hope to write a blog about it, in the next day or two. However I do want to just touch on it because I think moving forward the need for creative and inventive solutions during the pandemic may pave the way to doing things differently in the future.

As a disabled person, who has many days when ill health prevents me from leaving my home (and often even leaving my chair) one of the difficulties I have faced is keeping in touch with colleagues over the country, attending training or meetings, and in getting my voice heard. It is not just the physical difficulties, it is also ‘pay back’ cost in terms of pain and reduced physical ability over several days – and the cost of travel and overnight stays (which are now needed – and in fact often a two night stay due to exhaustion from travelling and attending things). Living on disability benefits is possible but benefits do not stretch to ‘extras’ such as training, travel and hotel costs.

So events like today’s conference via Zoom provide a solution as no need for travel or hotels; no worries about toileting or dietary needs being met,; and they ability to ‘dip in and out’ of the presentations as health needs dictate. I found the whole thing to be a wonderful experience, and enjoyed the presentations, the Q & A sessions and even the online chat between those people taking part.
I hope in the future as we return to ‘normal’ that conference organisers and others will continue to use Zoom and similar online solutions to ensure those who cannot attend face to face events can still be involved. I know I am not the only one who would appreciate this, as those with family responsibilities, those on low income, those who are time poor and many others would benefit from the opportunity to take part from their own home (or even office).

During one of the ‘break time’ chats between presentations, the subject of the proposed return to school for some pupils was discussed. The general opinion was it was too soon and that the Government plans were not realistic for a number of reasons. The discussion was informative and interesting – and unknown to me at the time, would be picked up during today’s Downing Street briefing.

Gavin Williamson Minister for Education led the Downing Street briefing, so it was not surprising that the focus was on schools reopening.

I understand that the return to school is dependent on the R number remaining below 1, but I have major concerns about the Governments reasoning on why schools need to open before September.

Children are going to have to undergo a lot of change if they return to school on 1st June, or indeed at any time while restrictions are needed. They will have completely different environments with many resources being locked away as deemed too risky in terms of risk of spreading the virus. They may not be with their friends and certainly will not be sitting in groups around tables. They may not even have the same teacher due to reduced class sizes.

Within a few weeks there will be more changes as the term ends, some will spend the holidays at home, some in holiday club (but due to reduced numbers allowed, may not be where they usually spend the school holidays), unless things change those who usually spend their school holidays with grandparents won’t be able to do so. Therefore children will have to cope with lots more change.

We do not know yet if schools will be able to start the autumn term with restrictions or not, but potentially at least one more lot of changes.

All parents now have made provision for their children, so why mess with those arrangements, why risk some parents returning to work and being left without childcare – especially as some children will be only returning part time, meaning complex arrangements will be needed.

I really do not understand why some children can return and some can’t due to age, in my opinion this will cause difficulties in families with children of different ages.

Finally (for now) I want to comment about Governments reason of supporting vulnerable children. I agree for some children being at home will not be a positive experience, and indeed some will be at risk of harm and so do need safeguarding.

However these children are already ‘known’ and can already attend schools as quite rightly places were made available. In reality many of the vulnerable children have not taken up the places. So instead of trying to increase up take of places by vulnerable children by opening up schools, a better course of action would be to support vulnerable children in attending provision at this time by working out why they are not attending. Some may need transport provided, some may need encouragement provided to parents, some may need a packed lunch or clothing. There will be a number of reasons but those involved with the children (social workers / teachers and other support services) will have a good understanding of the children’s needs, and so could work together to ensure children access the support available including the places in school during the pandemic.

Day 63
Sunday 17th May
After the physical effort on Friday and the mental effort on Saturday, I decided today would be a rest and recovery day. As a result I did very little today, apart from some knitting and in particular finishing the green hooded jacket for our expected new grandson.

Although there are a few minor errors, I am very pleased with my efforts.

Day 64
Monday 18th May
After my day of rest and recovery yesterday, I am feeling reasonably OK today, which is a good thing as I have a treat planned for today. My very good friend and ex childminding colleague and I are going to meet for our first ‘distance coffee’ together. This has not been possible before because I need to drive to her house so we can sit on our own chairs on her drive, but now restrictions on driving have been eased I am able to make the short journey to her house on the other side of Kidderminster. Like me, my friend has long term health issues and so we have both been very careful to maintain social distancing since the lockdown. Today was to be on the same lines to protect ourselves.

I sat on my rollator a good 2 metres from my friends’ front door. Her husband put a coffee table by my rollator making sure he kept 2 metres between myself and him. The table was for me to put my coffee on (which I had brought with me in a travel mug). My friend sat on her chair by her front door and we maintained the 2 meter distance throughout my visit. We wanted to exchange a hug but of course that was a ‘no no’. Instead we faced each other and hugged ourselves both at the beginning and the end of my visit. Not quite the same thing but because we were doing it together we did feel connected. It was lovely to sit in the sun chatting, and catching up on everything since we had last met – although it was not everything because we have been keeping in touch via social media – in particular via Messenger.

Due to our health needs we had to cut our get together short, and after 40 mins I left to go home.

A bit later on I drove to my youngest daughter’s house, not with intention of going into her house or garden because of the risk to her and to myself. My daughter is now in the last few weeks of her pregnancy, and I wanted to pass on the green hooded jacket I finished last week. I did this by throwing it over the garden fence (along with a spare toggle button and some chocolate for my granddaughter). My daughter then dealt with them ensuring the items were safe for them to use / take into their house. I stood at the fence overlooking the garden for around 30 minutes talking to my daughter and granddaughter; and watching my granddaughter on her bike (which she can now ride) and on her trampoline. I really enjoyed this short period of time, which while was not ‘normal’, was a step forward towards when we will be able to visit family and friends again.

During the afternoon I started a new cardigan for the baby. This one is in cream wool and I am knitting a new born size – so I need to knit as quickly as possible as baby will be here in around 4 weeks – if not before.

Garry did the weekly shop – just going to one shop, as he managed to get everything we needed. He also mowed our lawn and our neighbour’s lawn, and as usual our neighbour strayed inside while Garry was mowing her lawn thus ensuring social distancing.

The Downing Street briefing was on but to be honest I was not really listening. I think I have had my fill of depressing figures because even though there are promising signs of improvement in the graphs about people in hospital, and new cases, the number of deaths continue to increase day by day.

I admit as well as not wanting to hear the death figures, and being rather tired of the Minster’s speeches due to feeling we are not being told everything we need to know; I am now fed up with rules which do not seem to have any logic to them, and that also makes decisions that I feel I could make for myself using common sense. Examples are visiting family members as I think if use social distancing I could visit them in their garden, or meet with them in parks or other outside places for a family picnic with each taking their own picnic; and using our motorhome as I think we could maintain social distancing on a campsite, as our motorhome has full facilities we do not need the toileting / showering facilities or the camp shop to be open.

I am a very compliant sort of person and take my wellbeing and that of family and friends very seriously but I am also a very logical person and I am struggling to understand the rules the Government want us to follow.

Day 65
Tuesday 19th May
Garry and I decided we would visit our local Wilkinson shop as we had rather a long list of random things that we needed to buy and that we knew Wilkinson sold. As readers will know Garry has been doing the weekly shopping, and has also visited a few other shops to buy things such as DIY stuff, however I have not visited any shops since I started my self isolation on March 16th – so a long time.

I think my reason for deciding to go shopping today was partly to do with my personal struggle to understand the rules and with being ‘fed up’ with being at home for so many weeks. Of course we did consider the risks but considered them to be fairly low. We were able to drive and to park near the shop so no need to use public transport or to walk far among other people. We knew from Garry’s experiences that sensible measures were in place to protect us and shop staff.

So off we set, the road was quiet and so was the car park. The queue outside the shop was not very long and was spaced so 2 metres between everyone. Garry and I stood together but kept the social distance between us and others. The shop was operating a ‘one in, one out’ system and there was a member of staff just inside the shop door to ensure compliance with the rule. When it was our turn to go in, the staff member told Garry and myself that we could go in together. Inside the shop there was plenty of space and very easy to browse and keep a safe distance from others because the shop was restricting the number of people in the shop to just 15 people at any one time.

I was unable to get quite a few things that were on my list as they had sold out, so I could not get all the bird food I wanted, nor a new baby card and wrapping paper, nor the paint for our grandson’s bedroom, but we did get some new bedding for our grandson, some grass seed, a small quantity of suet pellets for the birds, some compost so I could ‘pot on’ some plants, - and although not our list, a couple of dog chews for our dogs. So although a bit disappointing it was a wasted trip.

I had thought we might pop into Iceland as it is next door to Wilkinson’s, but there was quite a long queue plus to be honest I was a bit too tired by that point to stand in a long que and then walk round the shop. Garry drove home through the town and on the spur of the moment because we saw an empty disabled parking space almost outside Poundland we decided to pop in. This proved to be a good decision as the shop was nearly empty so no queuing needed, and no worry about contact with other people. We managed to buy a few more things from our list but not everything.

Once back home we had our morning coffee, and then I got on with knitting the cream newborn cardigan for the baby, as it is a basic pattern and newborn size it is knitting up quickly which is a relief as baby is due in around 4 weeks.

After lunch I went round to my neighbours for a ‘distance coffee’, normally we do this on a Monday afternoon, but yesterday her daughter in law was coming round to set up a system for our neighbour to watched the funeral of her nephew, because attendance at funerals is very restricted at the moment.

So we had arranged to get together on Tuesday instead. At first we sat on our own chairs with our own drinks on her front drive, but after only 30 mins it was just too hot for both of us, and so as there is no shade at all on the front drive, we took the decision to go into her back garden. Of course this is not really allowed, but we decided there was no difference in sitting on her drive to sitting in her garden apart from the fact we would not get burnt by the sun. So rightly or wrongly this is what we did, I did touch the gate but this was wiped clean. I still sat on my own chair (my rollator) and continued to drink my own coffee – so as far as I was concerned there was no more risk in sitting chatting in her back garden to sitting on her drive. I suppose after needing to risk assess all my childminding career, risk assessing comes naturally to me and I am confident that I did not put myself or my neighbour at risk.

We chatted about everyday things, and my neighbour told me about her experience of watching a funeral online. She said it was not the same at all, but she could see the close family members who did attend and listen to the speeches and songs. On the TV later there was a very sad case highlighted where no family members had attended a funeral – just someone from the council; so at least relaying my neighbour’s family members funeral online extended family could feel they had paid their respects.

While we sat chatting I also knitted, finishing the back and starting the first sleeve – as I said it is knitting up quite quickly.

Today I did not put on the TV for the Downing Street briefing because we have a bit of an issue developing – and from what others tell me, we are not the only household with this issue!

Garry (in our case) is becoming increasingly annoyed at the way the media are dealing with the pandemic information (to be fair in much the same way as I am) but the big difference is Garry shouts at the TV and starts discussing his frustrations while the programme is still on. He also gets het up about things like PPE for Care Homes, and makes sure I know his view by telling me every time it is mentioned!

I am now fed up / getting annoyed at the constant comments as it spoils my TV watching – and so I now have started turning off the TV before the programme ends – or as today not even putting it on.

Day 66
Wednesday 20th May
I was up early this morning and so took opportunity to watch Breakfast TV without needing to listen to Garry’s comments (as it is not just the Downing Street briefings that wind him up). As is now normal just about all the programme was connected to coronavirus, but one section attracted my attention.

Every day they have an ‘Ask the GP’ section, and today they were focussing on the link between diabetes and coronavirus as diabetics are more at risk. I listened intently but did not hear anything that would be applicable to me. The basic information was diabetics need to have good control of their glucose levels to reduce their risk, and therefore their chance of not only getting coronavirus but also of having an extreme case or complications.

I totally agree with this advice but my situation is rare and complicated because I react negatively to diabetic meds and therefore my health and quality of life was actually much worse when I took diabetic meds to when I don’t. As I have tried a large number of different diabetic meds, and have now run out of options, control my diabetes by taking meds is not an option. I should mention it is not just diabetic meds that I react negatively to.

Most other things I have tried to control my glucose levels also don’t work, although a lower carb diet does help keep my levels out of the ‘danger zone’ which is where the impact on major organs is very high. In my case luckily (so far) my major organs are fine and not showing any sign of damage. My glucose levels remain far too high but are not getting worse, and although I have to live with constant pain and need to take morphine every day; and have poor physical ability, things could be worse, and so although I listened to the advice given by the doctor on the TV (as I do to advice from my health care professional’s) I feel there is nothing more I can do in terms of improving my diabetic control or reducing my risks of getting coronavirus.

Garry and I decided to go on another drive in our Z3 in our relatively local area (as we had last week). We set off early as the weather forecast was that it was going to be a very hot day. Even though it was early, it was already warm enough to have the hood down. We went on a different route to last time and even went down a lane, which despite living in Worcestershire since age 9, I had not been down before. I really enjoyed our trip out, we did not stop and so did not cause any risk to ourselves or the communities in the villages that we passed through.

We were only out for about an hour and home in time for an early morning coffee which we had in our motorhome. Garry and I are trying very hard not to get depressed about not being able to use our motorhome, as we have still only used it for one short 2 day holiday, which really was to test everything worked. It is hard to remain positive and even harder to plan for our next adventure in it, as we have no idea when camp sites will open. One of our worries is that when restrictions are lifted there will be so many people desperate to use their motorhomes, caravans and tents that managing to book a pitch maybe quite difficult.

I know planning a holiday in our motorhome may not seem important to some, and I recognise there are many much more important worldwide issues that will resolving once the virus is beaten. However, I think each of us need something to focus on to help us hang onto hope that things will eventually return to normal – even though that ‘normal’ may look a bit different to how it looked before the pandemic.

For some it will be returning to work, although for many fear of redundancy will also be in their mind. For others it will be resuming their self-employment – including all my childminding colleagues. For yet others it will be children returning to school / college without restrictions on the environment within the schools. Others will be looking forward to sporting activities starting again (including our grandson who really misses his weekly Dodgeball and Climbing clubs), or to shops opening including hairdressers and barber’s (as I know I am not the only one in desperate need of a haircut. Whatever it is that is important to us we need to hang on to hope.

I think most of us understand that there will have to be a gradual lifting of restrictions, but that most us the most important thing we want lifting is the restriction on meeting with family members. I hope that the Government will start this process in the very near future – maybe allowing us to meet family members outside our household in their gardens, even if at first we still have to observe social distancing. I think we need to be trusted to decide which family we should meet with, and to keep ourselves safe.

I for one, am desperate to hug my grandchildren, for them to sit by me or on my lap for a story, to be passed things of interest to them, to look at and return to them – all everyday but vitally important things to do. I do find it confusing that children can do these things with staff in an early years setting or at their childminders but not with their grandparents or other extended family members (unless those people live in the same household. It is even more confusing that childminders can look after other people’s children in their family homes – but their grandchildren can’t visit.

Fingers crossed some of these issues are thought about by Government and resolved sooner, rather than later.

The rest of the day I spent some time in the motorhome knitting the latest baby cardigan; and had a later than usual Wednesday video call with my friends. One of my friends lives near the coast and told us about the huge increase in the number of day trippers. What surprised me was that toilets had been opened, people could use their beach huts, ice creams could be brought in some places, and outside tea rooms were open. Having seen on TV that some tourist areas have said ‘stay away’ and have not opened toilets and so on, it appears this seaside place was actively encouraging people to visit.

Although not watching much TV, I am still using social media, so I am aware the increase in the death total is slowing, but at over 300 deaths yesterday, in my opinion this is still far too high, and certainly too high to consider big changes to the restrictions. The debate about if schools should reopen or not continues, with some schools and even some Local Authorities saying it is too soon for schools to reopen and they will not be opening their schools. In my opinion with such divide in opinion about if schools should reopen or not, it would seem advisable to wait a little longer; wait for number of daily deaths to drop and to be a little more confident that it is the right thing to do.

Of course some schools and early years settings have remained opened throughout the pandemic and have been doing a fantastic job of supporting the children and their keyworker parents, but in my opinion opening schools to more pupils is going to put those already within schools at greater risk. I know I have written about my personal opinion about the plans for some year groups to return to school in these diary entries, and I have stated that neither our grandson in our care, or some of our other grandchildren will be returning to school on June 1st as we don’t think it is safe.

Further I have commented on social media that parents and teachers need to ask themselves if it is safe / beneficial for the children, before deciding in their own personal situation. I do think if children can remain at home, not only is it safer for those children but it also reduces the numbers of children in school thus making it easier to manage and their for safer for those children who are in school – including those whose parents are keyworkers or now having consider your own personal situation to return to work, as they can’t work from home.

Remember it is not just schools that will be opening on June 1st, but also Early Years settings. Some childminders have already reopened but only for one family.

I have every confidence that my Early Years colleagues will not only cope, but will do a fantastic job of supporting each child in their care, so parents should not have any concerns around that – they just need to consider if returning to school or an early year setting is in their child’s best interests.

Day 67
Thursday 21st May
I woke with a rare feeling during these pandemic times – that of excitement!

We had a pre arranged social distancing coffee at our eldest daughter’s – not in her house but in her very large garden. The idea was we could have a coffee and chat to our daughter (2 meters apart of course) while watch her children play – well at least the youngest 3. We have not seen the children since April 18th when we made a very short visit to stand a good distance apart and sing Happy Birthday to our granddaughter who was 8 on that day.

My excited was increased because yesterday we had received a message to say a surprise had been planned for us and we were to park on the drive and follow the instructions!

As soon as we parked on the drive, I spotted our surprise – and what a wonderful surprise it was. The front door was open and hanging on the doorframe was a homemade ‘cuddle curtain’!

Our daughter and grandchildren were all by the gate waiting – and as an extra surprise not just the 3 youngest (8, 5 and 2) but also the older 2 (16 and 21). This was special in itself as even in pre pandemic times we did not see all 5 grandchildren together.

I read the instructions that were on the ‘cuddle curtain’ and on the wall next to the door. I put on the thick rubber gloves that had been provided (there was also a pair for Garry) and put my arms through the black plastic sleeves. My daughter was inside and she helped the 8yr and the 5 yr old (in turn) put their arms through other black plastic sleeves. We were then able to have our first cuddle in months. Although it was a bit strange due to all the plastic, including what looked like a shower curtain with holes for the sleeves, it was wonderful to be able to hug the children. The 2 yr old was too young to understand and take part, but she waved at us from the safe distance of the gate. After my turn Garry had a turn, enjoying it as much as I did.

Two ladies happened to be on their walk and going past our daughter’s drive, and the stopped to watch, saying what a wonderful idea that they might recreate as they were desperate to hug their loved ones.

After we were told to make our way up the orchard where we would find our next surprise. It was hard going for me as of course being an orchard it was uneven to walk on – but when I got to our surprise it was well worth it. There set up where 2 tables and chairs – one for me and Garry, and one for the children. The older grandchildren help bring out homemade cakes and hot drinks for us, we even had a menu. We then sat enjoying our refreshments, chatting to the older grandchildren (including our grandson who lives with us, and had come with us); and watching the younger children play. Almost perfect as the 8yr and 5 yr old understood while they could not come close to us – although they did need a couple of reminders. However the 2 yr old did not understand and kept wanting to come close to tell us things and show us things, as 2yr olds like to. I felt terrible telling her to ‘go back to mummy’ and I have no idea how strange this would have been for her. Luckily she did go back to mummy and away from us, and we were able to chat with her, and admire the things she wanted to show us from a distance.

We stayed about an hour, and then headed home, leaving our ‘live with us’ grandson behind as he had a trip out planned with his similar age cousin into the Wyre Forest which is very close by and which had reopened to the public the previous day. We trust the boys to stick to social distances and as they are both very familiar with the forest we knew they would be able to use the less popular footpaths and avoid other people.

The rest of the day was spent in my chair knitting (and doing nothing) as the trip out had exhausted me. I did not watch any TV and went to bed early, missing the regular Thursday 8pm clap for keyworkers

Day 68
Friday 22nd May
After the effort taking to visit the grandchildren yesterday, and the (for me) long walk down the orchard with my stick, today I am paying a huge pain payback. I got up at near enough my usual time, having had a bad evening and night, but within 1 ½ hours I was back in bed, having only drank half my drink and no breakfast. I slept on and off for 3 hours, but sadly on waking the pain was worse rather than better.

Therefore although I did some knitting, I did not do much at all and so today’s entry is short.

There is one thing I want to comment on – that is the phone call from my youngest daughter. This is her last day of work before she starts her maternity leave, which will be a relief not only because at this stage of pregnancy most mother’s to be are ready to stop work and ‘nest build’, but in my daughter’s case (and many others) she has been working from home and caring for her older child (aged 5) who has not been in school since early March, meaning she has had extra responsibilities and is now very tired.

The point of her phone call to me was to tell me the midwife had visited for her normal check up but had ended up staying for 2 hours because of concerns that my daughter is showing early signs of pre-eclampsia. Bloods have been taken and the results will be back by this evening. Of course my daughter and myself are now worried especially as now have to consider the restriction caused by the coronavirus pandemic – particularly the ones around the time our son in law will be allowed to spend at the hospital. We will be required to break our self isolation as Garry will have to provide transport as our son in law does not drive – and so Garry will need to drive them to the hospital, maybe transport our son in law back and forth, and then eventually collect our daughter and new baby when she is able to leave hospital. Meanwhile I will be looking after our 5 year old granddaughter either at her house or ours.

Of course it is good that routine checks have picked this up and that the health of our daughter and grandchild will be constantly monitored – however it is a worrying time for all of us.

As a bonus on this not very good day, I managed to finish the cream newborn sized cardigan

And best news - our daughter phoned to say the test results were back, and everything OK at moment, but she has got to monitor her BP and the baby’s movements – and to go to the hospital if the warning signs were seen.

Day 69
Saturday 23rd May
Thankfully I felt a bit better when I woke up this morning, I even managed to do a bit of ironing before breakfast.

Garry and I decided to go back to Poundland as we wanted a few things, and in particular I wanted some more of the wool I brought when we last went. To avoid queues and risk of too many people in the shop, we set off early and arrived a few minutes before the shop opened. They had sold out of one of the wool colours, but I did get 2 balls of the other colour, plus one ball cream, and 3 balls of multi coloured wool. A few more items were purchased and we were out of the shop before many other customers arrived. I sat in the car while Garry walked to the butchers shop, Garry reported quite a long queue had formed – even though it was only about 9.15am by the time he got there – however he got the meat we wanted, so all good.

Meanwhile our youngest daughter had phoned and asked us to get her a few items from a supermarket – including some items for her hospital bag which she has decided she now need to finish preparing in case she needs to go in suddenly should the warning signs present themselves.

I have not been in a supermarket since lockdown, and I was a bit concerned about my safety, so we decided if the supermarket was busy I would wait in the car while Garry popped in for the items our daughter needed. As it was there were no queues at all and we went straight in, quickly found the items for our daughter and a few items for ourselves (I admit mainly treat items as having not been in a supermarket for so long I was tempted by the treat things around me).

By the time we got back home I was not feeling very well at all, and not just the well-known pain payback I expect when I push myself too much, but a general feeling of ‘something is not right’

Garry collected our grandson who reported he and his cousin had had a good time in the forest just walking and talking. He said they had avoided people apart from when before going to the forest they had been to a local supermarket to buy their lunch. Our grandson was not impressed with other customers not following the one way system in place.

I did next to nothing for the rest of the day and went to bed early feeling sorry for myself.

Day 70
Sunday 24th May
I did not have a good night’s sleep. I got up early, as in around 3am, with terrible pain that was different to the pain I live with every day; I also felt sick but was not, felt dizzy and was very unsteady on my feet. I made a hot and a cold drink but could not even sip either of them. So I sat in my chair with my eyes closed but not sleep.

When Garry got he made me another hot drink as the one I had made had gone cold, I did manage to sip it and eventually drink most of it, but I just did not feel like eating at all.

Garry went out to archery club because as a member of the committee, he had an important job to do with the rest of the committee members – that of carrying out a full risk assessment, including actually use their archery equipment, so they could decide if it would be safe to reopen the archery club next week.

All sorts of things had to be considered, including a new system of booking a time slot to arrive to prevent too many people gathering at arrival time and walking across the farmer’s fields / opening and shutting gates. Garry and everyone else had to take their own refreshments as the clubhouse would not open.

On his return Garry reported that the committee decided the club can open from 1st June but that committee members need to return on Wednesday to help prepare for it. As an outdoor sport the reopening of the archery club is in line with Government advice, and I am sure all the members will be glad to attend once again – including a new member – our grandson. Before the pandemic shut everything down he was booked to attend a course so that he could shoot on his own without any restrictions, however of course the archery course was cancelled. Sadly due to not being able to open the course to non members the course may not run this year at all. Our grandson used to be a member of the archery club at their previous wood but has not been since they changed woods a couple of years ago – however because of his previous experience and membership – and of course the connection with Garry – he will be able to go and use ‘the butts’ (a practice area) and be assessed by the trainer – if he passes this informal assessment he will be able to go round the woods with Garry and shoot, but will not be able to go round on his own until he is able to undertake the full course and be formally ‘signed off’. I have my fingers crossed that our grandson will meet the temporary requirements and be able to resume his archery.

While Garry was at archery club, I did very little because feeling so unwell, however I had promised a friend some support with knitting. This friend has recently had a very traumatic family event and is desperate to motivate herself to do ‘something’ but is finding it very hard, so after discussion she decided she would like to improve her knitting skills but had neither wool or needles. So my ‘act of kindness’ is to send her some spare knitting needles and a ball of wool, so she could give it a try. We are both hoping that because I am encouraging her that she will be able to at least try – and if she doesn’t get on with knitting nothing is lost. I hope Garry will take the parcel to the Post Office on Tuesday as my friend does not live close to me.

I continued to feel dreadful, and apart from a yogurt had not ate anything. By 3pm I was in bed – and stayed there until the morning, sleeping on and off and once again feeling sorry for myself.

Finally before I send this document to Juls, so she can publish it, I want to try and establish if anyone is reading these self isolation diaries.

I have to admit as the days and weeks go on, I am finding it is taking a toll on my physical and mental wellbeing to write every day. On my ‘bad days’ I struggle and sometimes I am reduced to tears of frustration and despair as actually putting finger to keyboard is exhausting, and just thinking is difficult.

So please let me know via Twitter or Facebook or an email ( if you are reading them. Although part of the reason for writing them is to provide a record of what I did, what I thought and how I coped (or didn’t cope) during the pandemic; I also want to support others who may feel isolated, or think they are the only ones struggling or having negative thoughts, by being honest about my feelings.

If people are reading and finding useful or just interesting, it will give me reason to continue writing them.

Day 71
Monday 25th May
After feeling so ill over the weekend, I woke feeling still very fragile, and still not wanting to eat but I did have a drink. I stayed in my PJ’s for comfort, but went and sat in the motorhome on the drive, just for a change of scenery.

Garry had been to do the weekly shop a bit earlier and so we had some treats with our morning coffee. Our discussion over coffee was mainly about if we would be able to get away in our motorhome before the autumn.

Around lunch time I got dressed as feeling a little less fragile and able to cope with wearing day time clothes. My neighbour was keen that we still had our usual distance coffee, so I did go round and sit in her back garden on my rollator and with my own drink. I took my knitting and so sat knitting while we chatted. Although now meeting in her garden we are still taking precautions to protect each other. We discussed the ‘hot news’ about the PM’s senior advisor travelling from London to his family’s farm and how it appeared to us that he had broken the lockdown rules. To be honest we were less bothered about if he had broken the rules or not, but more concerned about having to continue to follow the rules ourselves. We both admit we are fed up of not being able to visit family – or they us, and we are desperate for normal family life to resume. We would also like to be able to go out together to visit shops, garden centres and cafes sooner rather than later. We understand the need for careful small steps, but get frustrated and annoyed at images of people crowding on beaches and other tourist places; plus news about others not complying both MP’s and members of the public

Day 72
Tuesday 26th May
One of those days when everything was too much for me to cope with.
So no comment today

Day 73
Wednesday 27th May
Small health improvement this morning, but still not brilliant and having to pace myself. I managed the breakfast washing up, then sat to do some knitting (another prem hat). Around 10am, I decided to do some ironing - just 5 items before I needed to sit down again, but it was good timing as it was 10.30am and time for my weekly video call with 2 of my friends. It turned out to be a short call as I had forgot to charge my phone and after just 15 mins it shut down. Still it was good to speak to (and see) my friends, although hearing my one friend was like me having a difficult health week was not good news.

Today we had a major breakthrough with our grandson in terms of his education. As readers will know he has not engaged as fully as he could with my plans for supporting his home schooling, through spending hours in bed and being good at thinking of reasons why he could not / should not do a particular task. Reading back through my diary I can see that I have adjusted my ideas / plans on several occasions. It is not that he has not engaged at all, because he has when it suited him, but these were pockets of engagement rather than every day.

One thing he has been doing regularly has been his art through photography, designing and making part of his fantasy character, drawing and more recently some digital art. Through his efforts he has improved his skills and produced some really good work. I had tried to encourage him to email his art teacher his work (photos off it, for ease), but he was reluctant saying his teacher would not be interested as was not off the list of suggestions she had sent and so would not count towards his portfolio and therefore not towards his art award.

I am not sure what changed his mind, but suddenly today he announced he had sent some photos of his work to his art teacher at school.

Building on this I had a chat with him about his future about the opportunities he would have at college. I discussed the need for positive attitude and good study habits AND how he could use the opportunities of not attending school to create his own timetable of educational activities. To my surprise he said he thought this was a good idea, and asked for my support. Together we decided that as he will be required to attend college lectures and hands on experiences for 12 hours a week that a 12 hour home schooling timetable would be a good place to start. We agreed that as technically this is half term we would start things off on Monday morning by working out a timetable.

I have no idea if it was my efforts to encourage and support, or my relax attitude to education with no undue pressure, or a bit of both – or just something clicking into place in his head, or maybe after so many weeks of self isolation within the calm home environment he has managed to achieve a sense of calm enabling him to refocus, that has brought about this change. Nor to be honest have I any idea if in reality he will stick to it, but I am so pleased we have had this breakthrough as it is a big step in the right direction.

The Downing Street briefing was on in the background but to be honest I am fed up with the comments about who broke the rules, if that person should be sacked or not. I am not personally happy about what happened and I think the rules were broke and thus putting others at risk but I also think we have much bigger issues to deal with and should learn from this but not make it the major discussion point for days and days.

I have to admit I am still frustrated with the questions asked by the media and feel all they want to do is to get the headlines and the credit for getting a minister to admit to mistakes or not telling the truth. Maybe it is because I feel so ill most of the time that I am like a bear with a sore head, but judging from comments on social media, it is not just me who is feeling like this.

Day 74
Thursday 28th May
Today I have continued to struggle and so have not done very much in terms of physical activity. Mainly just sat in my chair, although I did manage a little knitting – and to write my first new blog in a long time. I have commented within these diary entries about my own opinion around the issue of children returning to school, but felt I need to say more and make it available via my lovely new blog site that Juls from EYMatters created for me.

It took all day to complete and had to be written in stages as even concentrating to write was very tiring.

If you are interested in reading my opinion here is the link:

In the afternoon I had a phone call from our youngest daughter, she sounded tired and upset, and told me she was feeling out of sorts and that her blood pressure kept going up every time she stood up, worrying as in last weeks of pregnancy and with a recent history of problems that have required a check up at the hospital.

Our daughter was told to go to the hospital but that she was not to drive herself, so Garry collected her husband from work, and our daughter and granddaughter from home – thus ending our self isolation as they were all in the car together with no social distancing possible at all. After dropping our daughter and son in law at the hospital, Garry drove home with our granddaughter as there was no alternative for her care.

So not quite the same as the situation with the PM’s advisor but nevertheless we made a family decision based on our family needs.

We did consider the risks and took actions to minimise that risk; for example we agreed our granddaughter would stay with us until the baby was born (even if her parents returned home if baby not ready to be born), this was to reduce the risk of coming and goings as much as possible.

No Downing Street briefing today.

Our son in law was not allowed in the hospital because labour was not advanced and so he spent the time outside until late evening when he called Garry for a lift home.

Our granddaughter was excited to be able to come into our house as of course she has not been able to visit since mid March – a long time when you are 5. She spent the evening re discovering the resources I still have and in particular the magnetic resources. She also played with her wooden dolls house which now lives here as room had to be made for the baby’s things in their flat.

We managed to have a phone call with mummy before bed time, but our granddaughter was very unsettled and had thousands of questions and it was clear she was very anxious. However, our grandson stepped in and offered to lend her his big soft toy shark for the night, and eventually she went to sleep in the spare room (the one normally used by her cousin in term time 3 nights a week, pre pandemic times). It was a relief to me when she went to sleep because due to not being well for quite a few weeks I have to admit I was finding it hard work meeting her needs – but of course there was no way I was going to say I could look after her, especially as Garry and our 16yr old grandson were here to help.

Day 75
Friday 29th May
It will not be a surprise that I did not sleep well due to my concerns about my daughter and unborn grandson, but I snatch an hour here and there.

My day started with Garry bringing me a drink upstairs followed by the ‘arrival’ of our granddaughter into my bedroom. Her first question was ‘Has my baby brother come out yet?’ I had to report he had not and that Mummy was still in hospital being looked after by the doctors and nurses.

We had a message exchange with Mummy and were told Mummy would phone later. Our granddaughter enjoyed dictating a message to Mummy for me to type and added several hearts and images herself.

From then on my day was nonstop looking after our granddaughter, and was not dissimilar to how my days were when I was a childminder. I re discovered my skills of having eyes in the back of my head, and being a step ahead! I was pleased I still had a reasonable range of resources including, drawing, painting, playdough, duplo, craft stuff and more. This meant I was able to keep our granddaughter busy, which with quiet times reading stories and watching TV helped her deal with her anxiety about Mummy.

One thing she loved doing and was nothing to do with my old childminding resources, was to go in the motorhome. We all had our morning drinks in there, but we also – at her request – went in several other times throughout the day. I took my knitting and she took a small bag with a book and some finger puppets in it.

Mummy phoned for a video chat, and Daddy also phoned her, luckily her parents were reassured as they could see how happy she was, and were told about all the things she had done – and planned to do.

Garry had to pop out to the shop because we were informed last night at tea time by our granddaughter that she does not eat meat because she is vegetarian. We knew this had been the case for several months at home but wondered if she would follow through with her ‘it is disgusting to eat meat’ opinion here. Clearly she was going to, hence Garry going to the shop to buy things like vegetarian sausages.

After tea, she had a bath – I used to keep a big bag of bath toys but since being ill and not having overnight visits by grandchildren due to the impact on my health, I had passed then on / recycled them. Still over 30 years childcare experience meant I was not deterred by lack of bath toys. I used up the last of my bubble bath (I don’t need because can’t get in bath and haven’t for a couple of years) and then added the empty bottle to the bath; the handwash bottle was nearly empty so I tipped that into the new bottle of handwash, and added the old bottle and pump thing to her bath, a couple of clean small plastic plant pots with holes in the bottom, a plastic jug and a plastic bowl from the kitchen – and job done – one very happy 5 year old who played so long we had to add more hot water to the bath.

After story time I hoped she would go to sleep but NO! She was in and out of my bedroom like a yo-yo, with questions and concerns. I had actually gone to bed myself as I was exhausted and I am often in bed before 8pm even on days when not been caring for an active 5 yr old. I was just beginning to get to the end of my teether, when after returning her to her bed and me to mine, I heard her get up again but then I heard my grandson open his bedroom door and start talking to her. I could not hear everything but it was on the lines of ‘Granny is very tired, you must let her sleep and so you must stay in your bed’ – and ‘The quicker you to sleep the quicker it will be morning and you will be able to talk to Mummy on the phone’ – and finally ‘I am just here in my bedroom and I will keep you safe’ (Granddaughter has a good imagination and so thinks people breaking into house / monsters under bed and so on). I am not sure why it worked, but it did and I did not hear from her again until the morning.
Thank you grandson

Again no Downing Street briefing and no TV news, as much too busy with our grandparent duties

Day 75
Friday 29th May
It will not be a surprise that I did not sleep well due to my concerns about my daughter and unborn grandson, but I snatch an hour here and there. My day started with Garry bringing me a drink upstairs followed by the ‘arrival’ of our granddaughter into my bedroom. Her first question was ‘Has my baby brother come out yet?’ I had to report he had not and that Mummy was still in hospital being looked after by the doctors and nurses. We had a message exchange with Mummy and were told Mummy would phone later. Our granddaughter enjoyed dictating a message to Mummy for me to type and added several hearts and images herself.

Day 76
Saturday 30th May
Despite our granddaughter sleeping well (thanks to grandsons efforts), and despite knowing that the baby was in no hurry to come into the world and so unlikely we would have a middle of the night phone call from our son in law, and despite knowing our daughter was in good hands in the hospital – I did not sleep very well at all.


Well basically I had over done things with the constant attention to our granddaughter’s needs, and I was suffering from extreme pain payback. I have loved feeling I had a useful role to play, and the actual looking after my granddaughter, but the truth is, it is just too much for me. My health issues mean everything is physically hard, and as the day went on I found it harder and harder to stand, to walk, to do anything. Stubbornness and a desire not to let anyone down kept me going, but overnight my body reacted as it normally does if I overdo things with extreme pain.

However we had another day to get through. News from the hospital was that doctors would try to induce the baby later that morning. Our granddaughter enjoyed sending and receiving messages from Mummy.

The day was much the same as yesterday, except today I provided some water play in an old Tuff spot that was by the shed. Our granddaughter loved this and when Mummy made her video call she told Mummy she was having so much fun at Granny and Grandads house.

Another difference was we had to pop to her house to fetch a few more clothes and things because despite me washing clothes every day we needed more. Our granddaughter also wanted to take her skateboard and helmet back to ours. Daddy was at her house as not allowed in the hospital but we kept the greeting as brief as possible a) to minimise the risk of spreading anything b) to try to reduce any difficult goodbyes.

When we got back, our grandson took our granddaughter out the front of the house so she could use her skateboard. He checked with me what the rules were and I told him if she broke the rules he was to bring her in. However all was fine, and he stayed out with her for about 30mins.

Talking about our grandson, he received some fantastic comprehensive feedback from his art teacher about the work he had sent in. She commented in detail on every piece of work he sent in, and suggested that although it was not his intention, that actually he has fully or partly met some of the criteria of his art award and so would he be willing to at least look at the criteria if she sent it him. To my surprise he said yes, and a bit later on she emailed him the criteria for that unit of his award.

Some of you may be wondering what all of this stuff about my grandsons education, or my granddaughter coming to stay has to do with Covid 19 and my Self Isolation – well in my opinion it has everything to do with it because it is an account of how myself and my family have coped with the everyday and the occasional life events. Some readers will have had similar family events and some won’t, some will have recorded in writing and some will pass on verbally - but all our stories our part of this country’s history, and my self isolation will be part of our family history and as such I hope as I have written them down, in years to come both family members and the general public will read these stories and find them interesting and informative about this time in human history.

So getting back to Saturday 30th May account – not much to add really as bed time came and the only news from the hospital was that despite a day of contractions getting stronger but not closer together after the doctors intervention – contractions had just about stopped. Our daughter was exhausted as had had very little sleep but now had another night of regular check ups on the baby and herself to get through, and the worry about the baby, about her daughter still at our house, and knowing she would have to wait until the doctors rounds on Sunday before anything else would happen. She was also feeling the impact of having to cope alone as her husband not allowed in the hospital and visitors were banned. Having gone through labour myself 4 times, I know the support of a partner is key to helping you through the early as well as the later stages.

Personally I do not understand why partners could not be checked for Covid 19 before being allowed in (my daughter was tested and it was negative). I understand the hospital could not allow partners to come and go because of the risk but as partners are allowed in once labour is established – does it actually make any difference when they are allowed in, if they are to stay there until the baby is born? Maybe some of you readers know the answer to this – there must be a reason but from a logical point of view, I just don’t get it.

So we went to bed, wrapped up in our own thoughts about our own family situation and not really bothered about Covid 19 apart from the impact on us at this time.

Day 77
Sunday 31st May
The news from the hospital mid morning was that there was a place for our daughter on the delivery ward, and that they would ‘break her waters’ to get labour going.

Garry went to pick up our son in law and drove him to the hospital, then returned home to join us in the wait for news.

We got through the day by keeping busy, but by our granddaughters bedtime there was still no news. I attempted to put her and myself to bed but she was too anxious and had a million ‘What if questions’.

The baby had arrived safely! We were given details of time, weight and name.

We decided to ask Daddy to phone his daughter to tell her himself, which he did. It was a video call and so we could all see Mummy, Daddy and the baby, our granddaughter was shouting and squealing with delight. Of course it was a short call as Mummy was pretty tired.

Our granddaughter was far too excited to sleep – although she wanted to, as she knew once it was morning it would be the day she met her little brother. I decided that the best plan would be to allow her to fall asleep next to me on my bed, which she did quite quickly., When Garry came to bed a few hours later, he moved her to her own bed, where she slept soundly until the morning

Why My Entries Paused .....

As readers of my self isolation diary entries will know we had to partly break our self isolation in order to care for our 5 year old granddaughter prior to the birth of her baby brother (our 12th grandchild).

My last full entry is for Sunday 31st May which was when he was born just before 8pm.

Although we continued to be very careful in general and maintained isolation from all other family / friends and general population, we did need to support our daughter, son in law and their children.

In the first two weeks after the birth things did not quite go to plan with both our daughter and our new grandson needing medical attention.

In addition, as from 1st June 2020, the government started to ease restrictions which meant provided social distancing was maintained we (and everyone else in England) were able to do a little more.

Readers may be thinking that these are the reasons why I stopped writing my self isolation diary entries but actually there was a totally different reason and one which I could not easily solve.


We tried the usual DIY ‘fix it’ things such as turning it off and on, using the recovery disc (which would not load, search internet (on our phone) for tips but nothing worked so on Monday 1st June we took it to a local computer repair place (the only one open) to be told they were so busy due to other repair places being closed it would be at least 10 working days before they could even look at it. We had no option other than to leave my laptop with them.

This left me with a problem as my phone is old and ages ago stopped opening word / PDF’s / a few other things so I could not use that. My only other option was a Surface laptop which I had brought to support myself when I was doing a lot of travelling for conferences, meetings and campaigning against what I considered flawed Government policy.. However, the Surface had develop a fault with the charging cable a while ago and would not charge, so was no help at all.

I admit I was deflated and just a tad annoyed as I had intended on continuing to write my self isolation diary until end of day 100. In my head I thought that would be a good place to stop, and from a family record point of view it had a nice ring to it ‘100 days of self isolation’.

I sent Juls of EYMatters an email to explain the situation, and then pondered for a few days about what I could do. I think it is fair to say I was depressed at the thought that I might not be able to complete myself set goal of 100 days despite having kept my diary up to date for 77 days.

I came to the conclusion that there was not a lot that I could do, and in fact I was worried that my laptop could not be repaired or that I would not be able to afford to repair it. A internet search had already shown that if it could not be repaired I would not be able to buy a new one due to our income being just 2 small works pensions and my disability benefits.

After almost a week I realised I had another problem that of using zoom for some online CPD I had booked and an interview for Coventry Uni, so I started ‘fiddling’ with the Surface and the charging cable. I found out that if I held the cable in a certain position it did start charging – but of course I could not stand there for hours holding the cable in the same position. A bit more ‘fiddling’ and experimenting and I discovered I could use an old plastic membership card to hold the charging cable in place – not very secure but if no one knocked it, once balanced in place, it worked and my Surface fully charged.

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