From a very small Island

Michael Johnston, Isle of Wight


I heard on the news today that we (the Island) are to be guinea pigs for the new tracking app. Whilst my feeling and thoughts are generally in favour of contact tracing, I really doubt that I will go for the app, in fact I shall probably cease altogether carrying my smartphone when I go out and about. Truth to tell this seems an intrusion too far into peoples' privacy. From what I have heard and read it seems rather unnecessary, because this nation has a long tradition of competent contact tracing using, guess what, real live people! My suspicion is that the app is a rather gimmicky attempt by the powers that be to appear 'switched on' and of course 'following the science' or some such. Rant over...


This morning members of the Isle of Wight Austins car club met up. Of course we were not as usual at 'The Smithy' in Godshill, but were at home on Zoom. I approve wholeheartedly of that bit of software, because it allows real meeting dynamics to happen online. I know of families who are having quiz nights using Zoom, and it works really well. Where would we be without computers and software like that I wonder? Anyway, it was good to discover that all club members present are keeping well. Our old cars aren't getting out much, although I have a plan to take one of my Austin 7s, the 1932 Saloon, on a trip to Sainsbury's tomorrow for a Click & Collect pick up. What's the betting I get stopped by the police on what will be a wholly legitimate trip.  Should be fun!

I'm not sure this is within the rules of the journal, but the other day David H mentioned St Chris school camping in Bedfordshire and his catching Asian flu. I remember those school camps as very happy times and, if memory serves me correctly, they were either in Blunham by the River Ouse or on the River Ivel Navigation near Henlow. I also caught the Asian flu then, but not whilst camping I'm happy to relate.


Covid-19 Lockdown

Maya - 11 :)  Darley Dale, Derbyshire


I haven't written in the journal for ages now! I have had loooooaaaaaddddddssss of school work - more than I have when I am at school!!! I have also been out on my bike a lot.


My family and my best friends family are taking it in turns to set treasure hunts up for each other! Today I set one up for my best friends family. It was a picture one so they started off with a picture and they had to go to the location, sign, statue etc. etc. on the picture, when they were at the right location they had to find another picture and do the same thing again!!! I set it up on the bike trail near us and they sent us a message after doing it saying that they really enjoyed it!!


I am planning to some more baking tomorrow, I have been baking quite a lot during lockdown!! Tomorrow I am probably just going to make a sponge cake with butter cream and jam! So basically just a Victoria sponge. One of my other recent bakes has been a fresh rhubarb and ginger loaf cake! It was nice and very easy!!  My grandparents dropped off some fresh rhubarb for us a few weeks ago!!


My siblings, me and my mum did some planting in the garden today!! We have some new planters and are filling them with veg. We have: lettuce, spinach, beetroot, peas, beans, onions, tomatoes and strawberries!!!


Tropical thoughts

Paul Lowden, Malaysia


Fairy tales, legends, and myths speak of characters, sometimes warriors and Kings awakening after time in limbo or when called upon for help; their reappearance often coincides with a revaluation of the world they come back into, seeing it as if for the first time, a form of re-birth/renewal. Many of the posts have commented on how they have seen the world literally as a different place [often fresher, cleaner, brighter] but also metaphorically too as they re-assess what is around them. 


A Slow Awakening

There’s a slow awakening abroad; deep 

Within subterranean caves, yawning

Warriors, a thousand years asleep, rise,

Buckle bright armour on. Armageddon

Must be overcome. Stirrings above, coiled

Shoots, unfurling blossom banners, Rip Van

Winkle plants emerge to shout defiance

As the globe emboldened turns renewed to

Seize the day. Cascades run clear, pebble-bright

Streams the light across hills, dales, tide-flat mud,

Thin city streets, suburban verge, parks, woods.

Cliff-top horizons fill the day, moonlight, 

Star light, shadowlands at play. Nature’s pledged

Ancients, gnarled, defiant, oaken-footed.


Musings from self isolation

Billy Hearld, York


Yesterday, awaiting our walk, dressed and ready to leave, the heavens opened and rain poured down. At first, saddened by the weather that was preventing us leaving the house, we sat and watched the rain from the windows as it wept down the glass and pearled on the leaves of the holly, making the grass glisten and the bluebells nod melancholically. But then, determined not to waste our one walk a day, we collected supplies which were required by our grandparents and hopped in the car to deliver them, resolving to take our walk after we had given them provisions. Driving in the hammering rain proved to be immensely invigorating and most exciting as we listened to it pattering away at the car roof and whizzed through great puddles at the side of the road, spraying great plumed fans of water over the side of the car. By the time that we had reached my grandparents and set the packages of food down on their doorstep, the rain had stopped and so we set out walking. 


The air was very fresh and, as we strolled about the lakes of the university, the geese, ducks, coots and moorhens were beginning to strut about again in the absence of the storm. Tossing them bread, the crumbs scattering across the wet ground, they honked and flapped delightedly and squabbled over the food. It was rather comforting to feed ducks as I had done as a child.


Cotswold Perspective

Rosemary, Rodborough Common

I’m at home in isolation,

I’m saving the NHS,

and lives too.

The governments daily briefing graphs are understandable,

I breath a sigh of relief that the daily death toll is now below 400.

'R' now forms part of my vocabulary,

but what point is it at?

Is it over one or more importantly is it below?

However, I feel as if I am living in a parallel universe,

I don’t know a single soul who is unfortunate enough to have Covid-19

and there are no ambulances chasing along our roads.

In my world,

the skies are blue,

the sunshines everyday.

The garden is looking a picture,

and even the supermarket queues are tiny.

Where we live is extremely quiet,  

but now we have daily Ocado vehicles,

disturbing the tranquility,

delivering boxes of foodstuff from M&S.



John Underwood, Norfolk


A Dance to the music of time


A couple of days ago we received in the post a recent purchase from a fellow locked down bookseller. It is a little manuscript music book belonging to Elizabeth Hawkesmore Dawes, and on a page inside is written “the gift of her brother June 19th 1822”. All the music staves are hand ruled and edged with what must be watercolour lining, a considerable task, and you can barely tell that it is not printed. It is small, hand sized, and it has a red Morocco leather spine and corners with rather unusual shiny paper covered boards. All the page edges are gilded and the spine is decorated with gilt lyres. We know that Elizabeth lived in Bolton at the time as she has written her address inside. Another inscription on an early leaf reads “First set of Quadrilles arranged For The Piano Forte by Elizabeth Hawkesmore Dawes aged 14” so we know her age when she arranged them. The first of her tunes, reproduced below, looks to have been written by a younger hand. It has uncertain sizing of the notes and is rather uneven. 


Ever since lockdown, I have been trying to learn the Piano after a gap of more than fifty years. We have a keyboard which does the job, but is not the same as a piano. I can play with harpsichord and organ sounds though, which works for some music. I have been playing through the Beatles song book, and am finding that my sight-reading skills are still there, just about. Alison takes herself away to the other end of the house when I practice though, which ought to tell me something. My vanity sometimes takes over. I can be playing steadily, eyes fixed on the music and trying not to make a mistake, when I start imagining fond futures of playing to an admiring family, and astonished grandchildren - and then of course, everything falls apart and I feel foolish. Again. I’m going to have a go at Elizabeth’s tunes. It occurs to me that they might not have been played for some considerable time. Do feel free to copy the music and have a go yourself.


Corona Diary

Corona Diary - Annabel, A village in North Norfolk


Sorry my diary is getting very repetitive. Warning, there is no news. Nothing has happened!


Have picked up loads more boxes of seedlings from Roger who has pricked things out for me or propagated them. There are millions of things to plant out and dish out to friends. His son in law who works at Tesco got me some nuts, a whole carrier bag full of almonds, brazil nuts etc.


Have planted quite a lot in the raised beds but still a lot of staring and head scratching. It is like trying to work out a 3D painting or patchwork quilt of what goes where and next to what. I'm a bit too artistic to do it correctly like a gardener as I like the intermingling and clash that you get when it all kicks off. That is the textile designer talking, repetition, colour and pattern.


Just realised there are big gaps at the back of the border and getting there is like that spot game where you end up in contortions with one foot here and another there trying not to knock the spikes of the fox gloves and irises. There were masses of weeds at the back as my home made leaky hose is making them all grow. I had to squeeze along the hedge to weed and then come back and get things to plant but could really do with someone passing things across. I got a straw basket and filled it up with seedlings like a donkey. Will make some more trips with dahlias but they will be out of reach of picking or dead heading. What to do?


Yesterday I cut the grass and pulled up various weeds this side of the house. More contortions under the rose which attacked me right on the elbow. By last night I could hardly move it. My hair was being combed by the thorns. Words and snatched conversations come over the fence. Are you all right? Yes I'm fine thank you. Are you all right? Yes fine. You alright? A gang of giggly girls wooped there way down the road last night. Sounded like a party from the old days. Its much quieter in my garden as the pub next door is shut.


Boris talked to The Sun about his time in hospital. A lot of talk about the unlocking, travelling on trains, vaccines, tests. I wonder if anybody will ever go on holiday again or anywhere for that matter. People don't even like going food shopping. 


I like seeing every body's rooms and bookshelves when they're being interviewed on the telly but I am so tired I fall asleep every time I sit down and there's not much I really want to watch. Would like something calm or funny like Pride and Prejudice or My Fair Lady. I think Pride and Prejudice is like going on a little holiday away from the real world. Most of the time I am in my own little world anyway which is not that different to normal as I have always worked from home but sometimes I think, gosh we're in the middle of a pandemic! It is very easy to break the law at the moment and no one will ever have any money again apart from all the death and despair being reported every minute. Best to stay in the border amongst the weeds.


Exciting news!  My old neighbour is going to come and do some socially distanced weeding for a couple of hours. Hooray hooray. Staff after all.

Love Annabel xxx


Gratefully Sheltering

James Oglethorpe, Virginia, USA


Here is Calling


Take us step by prudent step,

lead us stone by stone,

mile by mile, word by word

through the deep dark wood.


Rebirth us with the power

of spring in the majesty

of an orange dawn tinting

the sky, horizon to horizon,

wrap us in woodland

where natural cycles

shall cradle us,

and swaddle us from fear.


Disinfect the septic madman

with a maximum dose of reason,

sanitize armed fundamentalists 

outside the doors of sanity,

only release us into sunlight

far distant from the mindless.


Let the fierce wind excavate

the truth from the wizened

trees clinging tight to stones,

share this over the blue valley:

never forget that today

we have remained alive, 

every passing minute a triumph,

a further consolidation of love 

flattening the curve of the day,

another distanced victory

of the rational over the 

blethering unmasked

and the unhinged vainglorious.

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