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Hello From the Hudson Valley

Sue, Lower Hudson Valley, New York

This week our county in New York State has started opening. As of this morning, my husband Michael has gone back to work. He is the type of person who cannot sit for very long… he needs to be working on projects. When lockdown began, he had a difficult time with it… feeling he should be out in the world working. It took some time for him to relax into the rhythm of doing projects here at home. During quarantine, he has accomplished so much around the house. 


Over the weekend, Michael told me he was feeling torn about returning to a semblance of what had been his normal routine before the virus locked us up. While he was anxious to go back, he was also hesitant that he could rev himself up enough for what he now needs to do.


But off he went this morning and when I checked in with him later in the day he said all was going well.


Meanwhile, here I am at home… still on my lockdown routine... and all day I have been thinking “WHAT HAS JUST HAPPENED?” I can’t seem to account for all the time we were home together. It is all a blur.


View from a balcony

Constance, Southern France

I wondered what one could write about after the end of lockdown. It turns out that there is plenty to write about, and, not suprinsingly, even more. There is just less time to do so. 

The end of lockdown was marked by several "events" (end-of lockdown, getting-excited-about-what-would-previously-be-normal-life kind of event). End of lockdown was celebrated with a diner with a close friend and her family, seeing her children and the chaos of their flat was very comforting. It was touching to see the girls' reaction to see me again.


A second occasion was getting very excited to realise "my" small Saturday and Sunday market was open again. I celebrated by buying too much vegetables (I know, crazy me!) and a lot of strawberries (which I did end up sharing). It, again, was very comforting. I felt so lucky in that moment. Joy which stayed with me that whole day.


The third exerpt of my post-lockdown life was starting sea-kayaking again. I feel so grounded and lucky on a gentle sea in the sun, paddling with the occasional swim (in the Summer only, in the Winter, they are non-volontary swims due to rolling over in the surf, not so enjoyable...). 


I do still have lockdown experiences, like today on my first day of staycation, I stayed in my flat the whole day! Without anyone odering me to do so. It helps that I have a new piano (which would have been wondeful in lockdown) and, as always, an endless list of crafting projects (I still have some metal rustless snappers left) not to mention more writing ideas.


Thoughts from the Suffolk coast

Harris G, Suffolk

A lovely bank holiday weekend. Great weather. The garden is needing lots of watering right now. My neighbour tells me if we don’t get any rain this week, it’ll have been the driest May since records started. 


Have spent a lot of time in the garden. The peonies are looking super. And the delphiniums. 


Television and radio news dominated by Cummings and the rules of lockdown. Allegations that he made inappropriate and unreasonable journeys. Boris Johnson being supportive. 


Oh what a mess,

At the public address,

BoJo was mumbling,

For his words he was fumbling,

And all now agree,

His gorgeous glory 

Might very soon be crumbling...


Am already sick of the Cummings issue... perhaps I shouldn’t watch or listen. But there’s a sort of compulsion. Is this a storm in a teacup? A diversion? Boris defending/denying. And what of the transgressions? Were they the acts of an arrogant man who fails to follow rules? Or is he really just a well intentioned father? Do we trust our government now? Did we ever? Who do we trust? Who do we believe in? Is our prime minister a benign, responsible and ultimately good man? Good intentions? Hmmmm.

An advisor for the nation

Rewriting the rules of isolation?

But if Dom didn’t transgress

By leaving his address,

This terrible mess

Is pure fabrication ...


Still the press is in quite a lather,

Should he go or maybe they’d rather 

Have him publicly repent 

For actions well meant -

Good intentions of a responsible father!

I wonder how the conversations went behind the scenes. Oh to be a fly on the wall sometimes... I doubt it was all laughter and banter...?
Could it have gone like this? 


“Now listen here, Dom”, said BoJo 

“You broke the rules don’t you know

Lockdown means stayin’ home

No one’s free to roam

So I’m telling you now you must go”


Dom screamed “ooooh that’s really so unfair,

Go on - sack me - if you dare

I’ll tell all the fools

I never broke the rules

I was just disorderly - like your hair”


“In fact I’ve got a cunning plan,

They’ll trust you ‘coz you’re the main man,

Convince them I‘ve been good,

I deserve a knighthood,

If anyone can do it, you can”


“You’re known for your shambling bluster,

Your shirt tails and hair like an old duster, 

I’m all for you bluffing, 

Tell ‘em I ain’t done nothin’

With all the conviction you can muster”


Had to go to the supermarket yesterday. Took a look at the beach even though the reports said people will be flocking there in bank holiday fervour. Very few people about. Lovely walk. Stared out at the endless sea and sky... just lovely.



“Survival” diary

Susan, Country Victoria, Australia

I keep meaning to submit my diary entry early in our afternoon, when I am still semi coherent, but I’m always tearing around finishing something or starting one last job. When my husband is away I’m happy to find something simple for supper, but I go to quite a bit of effort for the two of us, which inevitably takes more time and energy. I get to the early evening and I’m done for! Here I am doing it again. 


My dental work is finally able to start and I went to Melbourne yesterday for a consultation and establishing a treatment plan (accounts laid out with payment required on the day of service). The dentist has formidable academic qualifications and is charming and modest with it, so I feel I am in good hands. I heard someone paying their account grumbling about the hourly rate. I know the expense is not inconsiderable, but I did feel like saying quietly that it wasn’t the hour, but the last thirty years of practice and study and research that needed to be factored in, but I kept shtum. Sensible, low key and effective C19 measures were in place. 


We were talking about wonderful concerts on our way into town and wondered if we would ever see Jordi Savall travelling here again. I was chuffed to see Sheila’s entry about her favourite recording of the Vivaldi opera (which is unknown to me) was the marvellous Jordi Savall. I will search it out, your live performance sounded magical. 


Thank you for hitting the submit button David. What you wrote about fear and its apparent disconnect in the face of the beautiful things that remain in our personal lives resonated. The unpredictability of this virus, the unknowns around a second wave and the realisation that the “casualties” seem to be of so little consequence to the people “in control” really is a cause for anxiety.  


The absurdity of politicians and the pillocks who advise them has no national boundaries. Did I hear correctly that the now infamous British advisor also drove to a tourist destination to test his vision was 20/20 before heading back home? In Australia the latest fiasco involves a treasury and government miscalculation of $60 billion. Our PM likened it to a house build that comes in under budget. Preserve me. 


Thank heavens for the dahlias, lifting and storing them in today’s sunshine was quite restorative. Small whiskey nightcap tonight I think.  

PS National Library Jean. Same place?


Hello from Eastbourne

Macrae children

Mum's birthday by Franklin Lewis Macrae


Over the back holiday weekend it was my mum's birthday. We went for a walk and came back and had a party tea. The party tea was scrumdiddlyumptious. My dad and Marli made toasted cheese sandwiches, strawberry jelly and ice-cream, peanuts, crisps, and a birthday cake. Noone could eat the birthday cake, we were so full! Marli used my mum's nice glass plates and we drank elderflower from champagne glasses, it was a pleasant day, such a change from quarantine, I do find it a hindrance.

Mummy's birthday by Marli Rose


It was mummy's birthday over the weekend. When daddy woke up, we got our presents and cards together and crept into mummy and daddy's room to sing Happy Birthday. Daddy and I were then very busy organising her party tea. We made toasted cheese sandwiches, strawberry jelly, and sponge birthday cake in my bundt tin. We had Twiglets and chilly peanuts and we made the table look special with a tablecloth and mummy's old French plates. We were so full after our tea that we didn't have room for birthday cake so we ate it the following day.


Daddy gave mummy a ring and a new garden trowel, Franklin drew her a dinosaur and I made her a bracelet and a card with a mouse house on it like 'The tale of the castle mice'.  


The following day we had a pleasant walk in Abbots Wood. It was cool and shady and we had a wonderful time jumping over ditches and running through trees. We had a barbeque at home for tea with sausage sandwiches and rose lemonade. We had the birthday cake afterwards. I used the icing set that Santa brought me and I covered the cake in strawberries and cream. Obviously I couldn't fit 46 candles on the cake so I just used four! And as for the garden strawberries, I got ten this morning! Ten!



Florist in lockdown

Jane, Near Manchester, England

We noticed on tv last night some serious 1970’s hair styles on some news reporters! My friend in Wales has gone for the full Sinead O’Conner look, and shaved hers really short, it’s makes her look younger and trendier, especially if she wears a strong coloured lipstick. 


News bulletins have been dominated by the Dominic Cummings debacle. I’m not sure which I find most offensive, the fact that he broke the lockdown rules (spectacularly), which he himself helped devise, or the fact that he is totally unrepentant offering no hint of an apology, only arrogant excuses. He and Boris are obviously as ‘thick as thieves’ , when questioned again last night, by several newspaper journalists, the PM defended his actions, stuttering and squirming behind his lectern. It really was embarrassing, pathetic and painful to watch. The comedian Russell Kane does fantastic daily rants on his Instagram page, so funny. 


The only direct answer to come from Boris last night was a definite yes, when asked if people should now be encouraged to do some non essential shopping! From 15th of June retail shops can open, with social distancing measures in place. I work in a small flower shop, so I am waiting to hear if we will be reopening next month. The one thing they haven’t considered is the lack of public conveniences available in towns. No cafes or pubs to nip into. If shoppers are advised to ‘keep washing their hands’, where are they to go, and indeed ‘go’ ?


Reading Sue’s account of her visit to the clinic for an antibody test was very sobering. If we are to believe the numbers the daily death rate is coming down, but is still in the hundreds. 


Meanwhile back in my little world my roses, usually so abundant, hardly have any buds at all, and one of them is completely dead. I am not sure if this is due to the extremely dry and hot spring, or because of the C situation I was unable to get any manure. Just wondering if I prune them again and feed them will they bloom later?? All hints, tips and advice are welcome! Keep well everyone xxxxx


Tropical thoughts

Paul Lowden, Malaysia

One Degree North

The sun is of course British, or English

To be more precise, especially when

Called upon to shine at Lords, Wimbledon,

Ascot, Bank Holidays [‘wot a scorcher!’] 

And everything with Her Majesty in.

We also generously allow it 

To glow abroad and enlighten the Med’

Or those places with nice buildings, villas,

Coastal resorts and the like; permission

Is granted for its enhancement of ruins,

Tavernas, fishing boats and reflections.

It rises languid at a proper hour

Easing tea, toast and chunky marmalade

So one can contemplate the day ahead

In a British way. It glides serenely 

To midday then allows a lazy lunch

Before its slow arc to scones, cream, homemade

Jam and before you know it cocktail time

Arrives with tinkling ice, cut glass, spritz.

Finally with an apologetic 

Glance at the clock it takes us off to bed.


A dysfunctional cousin dominates

Just one degree North of the equator.

Surly it sulks until begrudgingly

It lurches upright, no apology

For abrupt behaviour, no subtlety,

No time for aubades, no glimsing shades

Of dawn’s gentle light, just scalpel sharp lines.

Unwelcome overnight Humidity 

Comes too, its gum-chewing, skin-scratching pal.

Together they persistently conspire

Hour by torpid hour to provoke, to poke,

Thieves of shade and cool until at screaming

Midday all seems lost. Insouciant bullies

Aided by subservient mosquitoes 

The diabolic duo head at once

For bed. No lingering, no slow sinking 

Western glow for poetic scene painting

Just a furious slamming of the door.

The British sun strolls, hands deep in pockets 

A jaunty whistle on its lips, content;

Its dodgy foreign fag smoking cousin

Won’t relent, simmering with all-day rage.

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