Liesel is in Alaska until the end of the month, working from home and sometimes in an office, and spending time with her Mom and Dad both of whom are recovering well from recent surgery. But mainly, she’s enjoying the snow and the spectacular scenery while walking and hiking with friends.
Nearer home, I’m now Covid free but I did have a few days of extreme lethargy. Yes, I know I can be a bit lazy sometimes, but this was a totally different feeling. I listened to my body and did very little. And when I did do something, I became fatigued very quickly. But slowly, slowly, things are getting better. All helped by the much more pleasant weather of course, blue skies and sunshine, even if I couldn’t take full advantage for a while.
But when I did go out for a quick walk, it’s all change in Northenden. The island in the Mersey has had a Brazilian.
The vegetation on this island was quite useful: it used to catch some of the plastic whenever the river was in flood. Well, this bush has now been well and truly trimmed. And, inevitably, you can see an old discarded tyre.
The village green continues to evolve. Where there were crocuses and snowdrops just a couple of weeks ago, the daffodils are now taking over.
So, having taken the plunge, I decided to join the regular organised walk in Northenden. About 10 of us walked through the woods and round the block before enjoying a coffee at a coffee shop. So this was my first time mixing with people since my Covid. Chantel had succumbed recently too, so we compared notes and symptoms.
It was my birthday this week too. Happy birthday to me. Jenny invited me over for supper and, of course, this was the first time I’d seen the family for nearly three weeks. We had an Indian takeaway and Jenny baked a beautiful big cake for me, thank you!
And thank you Jenny and Helen and everyone too for my pressies: chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and beer! And a walk around the Manchester music scene.
Not only that, but the laptop I ordered has arrived. It’s a refurbished Acer with all new components, built to my specifications. So at last, I’m going to have to wean myself off Windows 7 (and Windows XP) which I still use on my old desktop PC, and get to grips with Windows 11. The laptop came fully loaded with Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Works and Yahoo GeoCities. I don’t need to take advantage of the offer from AOL of 999 free hours of internet access this month.
After a quick visit to the hospital to be wired up with a heart monitor, I thought I’d go for a walk in Wythenshawe Park.
I still remember the first and only time I’ve been on board a horse. I was six years old, we went to the Epsom races, and I was lifted up onto what may have been one of the actual race horses. It was very high up and it didn’t move, thank goodness, but that experience has meant that I’ve never since mounted a horse. These young people seemed to be enjoying the experience, though.
Some trees are now blossoming: I was surprised how much has changed in the 10 days that I didn’t really venture outside.
I was sitting on the bench listening to the birds when I was chucked out. Yes, I was in the horticultural centre and they close at 4.30. I think that’s the first time I’ve been kicked out of a park. So, a quick drive home and then supper? Well, no. I couldn’t go directly home because police vehicles were blocking Church Road. I drove the long way round and decided to go for another quick walk just to see what the excitement was.
A whole section of Church Road was closed, buses were on diversion, and a white-van man was remonstrating with a PCSO because he couldn’t make his delivery. The PCSO said there had been a fatality and later on, I overheard a conversation in which it was revealed that a hit-and-run driver had killed an elderly lady. I’ve not been able to verify this. Neither have I seen anything in the news about a collision between a cyclist and a vehicle which again delayed my drive home after joining the organised walk in Wythenshawe the following day. That completes this weeks tragic news from Northenden.
It was a very pleasant walk in Wythenshawe, but whether it gave my portable ECG device anything to get excited about, I don’t know.
As I was walking through Kirkup Gardens (I think it was Kirkup Gardens) a young lady gave me something to plant in my garden. What a nice thought. She’s from Manchester Forever, the only charity that raises money to fund and support community activity right here in the Wythenshawe area. So that might be an organsation to find out more about later on.
I mentioned my post-Covid lethargy earlier. This is the reason why my Wythenshawe Radio show this week was a repeat from last year. There’ll be a brand new one next time. A celebration of Spring.
As I sit here on the sofa writing, listening to last week’s Cerys Matthews show, the Sun is streaming in through the window and I’m thinking I can’t wait to post this so I can go out for a quick walk! A great sign I think that the lethargy really has gone and I just need to slowly build up my stamina again after a week or so of not doing very much at all. The lesson from this is, avoid Covid if at all possible. I’ll be wearing a mask when necessary, and keeping social gatherings to a minimum. And I’ll be getting any vaccines on offer at the earliest opportunity. The government might be acting like the pandemic’s over, but we should all carry on being cautious. Stay safe!
The title sums it up. Not a lot happened this week. So, I was feeling a bit under the weather and lo, on the third day, I tested positive for Covid. Yes, after two years of being incredibly cautious, I picked it up. Whether from York, or public transport, or the streets of Notrthenden, or medical facilities, I’ll never know for certain. But at least I have it while Liesel’s 4,500 miles away in Anchorage.
One NHS site said I had to isolate for 10 days, another said 5 days and until I test negative two days in a row, while the governemnt’s advice is to do absolutely nothing to protect other people.
My symptoms did not include the classic loss of sense of smell and taste. No, it was more like a really bad cold, headache, earache, mucous glands working overtime, some fatigue and even more lethargy than usual. But mainly, it was coughing. It started with a tickly throat, turned to a sore throat, that eased and I’m still left with a niggly cough that won’t quite let go.
Help slow the spread of #COVID19 and identify at risk cases sooner by self-reporting your symptoms daily, even if you feel well 🙏. Download the app https://covid.joinzoe.com/
I joined Zoe two years ago and I’ve been reporting Liesel’s and my Covid status every day, all our tests, all our vaccinationss and lately for me, all the symptoms. Zoe told me to go for a PCR test, just to confirm my positive LFT results and this involved a walk to the test centre in Wythenshawe. Which was hard to find, but really obvious once I got there. Maybe being geographically challenged is a symptom. And this was my last visit to the outside world for several days. The result came through a lot more quickly than they’d predicted.
Another beneficial side-effect, if I can call it that, is that I was able to take part in a trial of an antiviral drug which may or may not speed up my recovery. Remember licorice comfits? I had to take four capsules bigger than those twice a day for five days. And as I said, I still have a cough, though nowhere near as frequently as a few days ago.
I think I was unlucky to catch Covid but I think I was pretty lucky that I only had it mildly. At least I’m still around to talk about it.
How did I keep myself occupied whilst confined to quarters? Radio, podcasts, TV, puzzles, books and eating and sleeping. Oh, and spending far too much time falling down rabbit holes on the internet. There’s some good stuff there, but there’s an awful lot of crap as well. Still, it passes the time. No matter how I try, I can’t get up to 10,000 steps a day pacing up and down our hallway.
Meanwhile, in another time and place, William became Gymnast of the week.
I think the award was for forward rolls and other stunts rather than for standing on one leg, but we are all very proud of him.
And much further away, Liesel was greeted by a visitor lurking in the bushes.
Now if I’d planned this thing properly, that moose would have been standing on one leg as well. As would this little chickadee, enjoy the offerings in Liesel’s parents’ garden.
In Anchorage and here right outside our apartment in Northenden, the squirrels know that Spring is very nearly here and they’ve been playing kiss-chase up and down the trees and all over the place. Very entertaining.
The weather has improved a lot this week. In fact, it was so nice, I opened windows. Yes, fresh air blowing through the flat for the first time this year felt pretty good. Hopefully, the miasma of coronavirus has been well and truly smited. Smote. Smitten? Got rid of.
I did go out for a walk in the sunshine, a short walk, but it was nice to pay a quick visit to Quarry Bank Mill. I avoided people as much as I could, of course.
In a couple of weeks, I think more flowers will be out and it will look quite pretty.
I need a better map so I’m not sure whether this is the River Bollin or one of its tributaries, but it was flowing pretty fast. No, I don’t think this blockage is the result of beaver activity. It’s more likely to be the accumulated woodwork from the many times William and Martha have played Pooh sticks here.
This week’s Wythenshawe Radio WFM 97.2 radio show was a bit more challenging, as I had to record it between coughing fits. Still, you can listen to it here:
The excitement mounted as I prepared for an adventure. Two years ago, we bought tickets for a gig in York for April 2021. Due to Covid restrictions, along with many other shows, it was postponed. But its time has come. Liesel and I planned to make a weekend of it in York, a city that we’ve only visited once in the past.
Well, Liesel is still in Anchorage of course, and I didn’t want to miss the show. I also decided to go by train rather than by car. I haven’t been on a train for well over two years and I thought I’d see what it’s like these days: how many other passengers would be wearing masks? How crowded would it be?
The blue sky was a welcome sight as I waited for the bus to take me into Manchester. The bus wasn’t too busy, and about a third of passengers were masked up. One hundred percent of the driver was not, which I found surprising.
In another first, I caught the train at Oxford Road Station. Despite the cold wind blowing through the station, I did not wait in this rather cute little waiting room.
It reminds me of Thomas Newton’s home planet inThe Man Who fell to Earth, which is strange. That’s today’s first reference to David Bowie.
I read a book during the 90-minute journey to York. Again, about a 33% success rate with face coverings, which is disappointingly low, I feel. Already, I felt I was mentally ticking the box that says ‘don’t travel by train again any time soon’. Which is a shame.
So I’m by myself, but of course I still had Liesel’s ticket. One of my online mates, George, agreed to use the ticket. And George met me in the forecourt of York Station, from where we walked all the way to the concert venue, The Barbican. This was handy because the hotel I’d booked for myself was right next door. Very convenient: almost as if I’d planned it that way. But that was only because all the Airbnb places that I found in York city centre turned out to be actually located in a suburb much further out of town!
George and I ‘met’ online while watching the one time regular Tuesday evening YouTube performances by Jessica Lee Morgan. And, by coincidence, it was Jess that we were here to see tonight, supporting and performing with Tony Visconti’s Best of Bowie. Yes, David Bowie. Sadly, Woody Woodmansey’s not with the band on this occasion, but I knew we’d have a good time anyway.
I checked into my hotel, and we had a coffee before walking back into York Centre. George had pre-booked a ‘meal deal’ at his accommodation, so I wandered around for a while, looking for somewhere nice to dine myself.
I’d forgotten what a pretty little city York is.
The wall surrounds much of the city, and you do feel like you’re entering another realm when you walk through one of these gates. And you sense you might just be under surveillance.
The Sun was still out and it was quite warm, the cold wind had dwindled, but even so, I was surprised to come across some ice sculptures.
Later on, I read up about it here. It says there were 40 exhibits, but over two days, I didn’t find nearly that many. Someone more organised would have looked at a map.
I just happened to glance into this shop window.
The album that we all know as The Man Who Sold the World being sold at last under the name it was meant to have. No, I didn’t seriously consider starting a new vinyl collection. This might be a new remix by Tony Visconti, but I’m not sure my ears could tell the difference! Still, nice to see David Bowie referenced again.
As I walked over the fast-flowing and high River Ouse, I found this old place on the east bank.
Dating from about 1300, Lendal Tower was originally part of the City’s defences, with a defensive chains stretching from here to the Tower on the opposite bank. In 1677 it was leased to the predecessors of The York Waterworks Plc for five hundred years, at an annual rent of one peppercorn for use as a water tower. During the 18th century it housed a steam pumping engine modified to the design of John Smeaton FRS, then a proprietor of the Waterworks. It ceased to be used for those purposes in 1850. In 1932 it was refurbished and now houses the Company’s Board Rooms. So says a plaque on the side of the building.
I dined at The Orchid, a vegan restaurant. Of course, I hadn’t booked, so when I turned up at one minute past opening time, I was told I could eat there as long as I vacated my table by 7.30. I thought, well, if I can’t finish my meal in an hour and a half, then there’s something wrong. Plus, I didn’t want to miss any of the show of course.
And the food was lovely, very well presented and with very friendly service.
Unusually, I took photos before the dishes were empty.
I enjoyed a leisurely walk back to The Barbican where the scanner successfully scanned my ticket barcode on the first attempt. Things are looking up: maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. As I said, it is a very cute little place.
Inside, there were hundreds of people, some wearing t-shirts depicting David Bowie from various eras. And, speaking of David Bowie, one thing I never expected to see was a portrait of him in monochrome Lego.
Jessica’s partner Chris was working behind the merch stall. I met up with George again as well as Sue, another regular at JLM’s Tuesday night online shows. Nice to see people in real life, isn’t it?
Jessica and Chris performed some new songs for about half hour including one which involved audience participation. I don’t think the quality of my singing was improved by the presence of a face covering.
After a break, Tony Visconti’s Best of Bowie took to the stage for two hours of Bowie hits and some surprises. The whole band was spot on, although on a couple of occasions, either the singer, Glenn Gregory, or I, misremembered the lyrics. Jessica played guitar and alto sax, though not at the same time, even she’s not that talented. I am very conscious of not taking too many photos during a show: I used to be quite obsessed with capturing every possible lighting arrangement and every available location of all the musicians. From where I was sitting, and from where George was sitting in Liesel’s seat we couldn’t really see Janette Mason on keyboards, but she did a great job.
Actually, I think most of the audience was singing along to most of the songs. I wasn’t the oldest person there, and there were some teenagers too. So do I have a set list? It’s in my head and I should try and write it down before I forget but then it might already be too late.
Tony Visconti told the story of when they were playing, as Holy Holy, in New York on David Bowie’s birthday. He phoned David up and the whole audience then sang ‘Happy birthday’ to him. Just a couple of days later, they were in Toronto when they heard the news of his passing. They carried on the tour, but I’m sure the atmosphere was very different.
I hung around for a while and had a chat with Jessica and Smiley the drummer before setting off for the comfort of my suite, a whole five minute walk away.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who did a double-take on seeing this thin blue-suited duke hanging around like the rest of us.
What a great night, and I’m pretty sure Liesel would have enjoyed it too. Next time. Anyway, it took a while to wind down and get to sleep.
After breakfast, I set off for my day as a tourist in York. Of course, I had to walk along the wall for a while. Last time Liesel and I did this, it was drizzling lightly, but today, the Sun was out, the sky was blue and the spirits were well and truly lifted.
I admit that sometimes I mess about with my photos for comedic effect. But this photo of Sir Thomas Herbert’s House has not been tampered with.
This old, old, old building really does look that happy.
And, yes, of course I kept a lookout for more ice sculptures.
Sadly, a few had melted by the time I found them, as they’d been placed on the sunnier side of the street .
I quite enjoyed wandering around, but not surprisingly I suppose, the most uncomfortable I felt was at the market near The Shambles, which was really crowded. Other prople were having a good time out on the river.
The only place I visited properly was the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall. In fact, I had lunch here before walking around looking a lots of old stuff. Funny how old buildings like this have the same sort of old smell, despite presumably being cleaned with modern chemicals with modern scents.
The place has been flooded a few times over the centuries, and the high levels have all (I assume all) have been marked.
I can’t imagine how much water is needed to reach that high from the river that far away. But I must say, I was pleased to have this place almost to myself on this occasion. I suspect that the art galleries and museums would have been far busier. Liesel and I will return sometime, I’m sure.
Something else that is guaranteed to make me feel good is the sight of a perfect reflection in the water.
In Northenden, we have planters in the main street with flowers and they look delightful. In York, they’ve gone one step further and are growing food for the community.
Sadly, there wasn’t much to pick today apart from a couple of weeds, but it’s the thought that counts.
There is one landmark in York that I’ve nor mentioned yet. Well, here it is: Cliffords Tower.
I was going to bound up the slope like a gazelle but, er, I had my luggage, that’s it. Oh, and there was a fence that I couldn’t climb over.
The train back to Manchester was a bit more crowded as was the bus back to Northenden. Oh well.
Meanwhile, our Alaska correspondent has reported more snowfall in Anchorage. Liesel sent this picture which, it has to be said, made me shiver a bit.
I’ve mentioned my issue with intermittent unjustified shortness of breath before. This week, I visited the GP again and attended hospital for a chest X-ray. I really want to get to the bottom of this now.
Later that day, I started feeling a bit manky. Tickly throat. Cough. Headache. Rough sleep. I didn’t feel up to going out for any of the organised walks and sadly, neither did I feel up to looking after the children this week. Fortunately, I had recorded most of the radio show before I came down with this lurgy. It’s about Communication and an extended mix is available here:
Just when I thought I was getting over whatever the ailment is, the duvet decided to pick a fight with me. I realised I was lying under nothing but empty duvet cover. The duvet itself had somehow migrated to Liesel’s side of the bed leaving the empty husk behind. I tried shaking the duvet back into place but I think I’m going to have to start from scratch. Did I say ‘scratch’? Well, yes. There are in fact two thin duvets at work here, held together with a safety pin in each corner. Except it seems the one in my corner has undone itself and it poked through, threatening to stab me. A small scratch on the arm is bad enough but I don’t need this sort of adventure in the middle of the night, thank you very much. When it comes to battles with inanimate objects, there is no guarantee of victory.
Well again there’s not much going on in real life in Northenden. But in my dreamworld, it’s all going on: I’m getting lost, I’m losing my bike, and sometimes I wake up feeling really good but I can’t remember why. In Anchorage, Liesel’s being arty and finding some colour.
This paint pouring looks fun but very messy. We can’t wait to get the children involved. Ideally at their house of course, not ours 😉
It was rare this week, but always a joy to see the Sun even if we couldn’t really feel it. But it was cold enough for this pigeon to be frozen to the spot.
Actually, I think this is the first falcon I’ve seen in Northenden, what a shame it’s not a real one. Maybe the buildings aren’t tall enough.
The river’s subsided significantly, but it has left a lot of debris behind, mainly trees, logs and of course the ubiquitous plastic.
I had an unexpected road trip. Jenny asked if I could pick her up from work as Liam was busy. Of course, I said, expecting to have to fight the rush hour at about 5 o’clock, maybe 5.30. But no, it was about 8 o’clock when I got the call. I don’t think I’ve ever driven into Mancheter in the dark before. Yes, we’ve driven home after a show but I can’t remember the last time either of us have actually set off anywhere that late in the day. What an adventure! See, I can have a good time now and then!
This Tuesday was pancake day. So I made pancakes for myself. I made the usual quantity, intending to keep some for the next day. Well, that didn’t happen. I just stuffed myself with all of them. All topped them off with the traditional fresh lemon juice and sugar.
But, in a moment of madness, I ate them in a stack rather than rolled up. Two stacks, as it happens. I should go and consult the doctor and see if there’s anything they can do about me slowly turning American. Maybe it’s Liesel’s long-distance influence.
I didn’t visit Fletcher Moss Gardens this week, but I did start reading a book about the venue.
It’s very informative, telling us about the plants there, some of which are quite rare. Which makes one wonder if they’re OK being inundated with flood water every year or so. I’m sure they know what they’re doing.
Child-minding day. William was dressed as the Gruffalo and Martha as Isadora Moon.
When William came out of his class, I asked if he’d enjoyed International Book Day. “World Book Day” he replied, putting me in my place. It was fun seeing all the children, and teachers, dressed as some favourite literary characters.
There’s a tragedy unfolding in Ukraine right now and I’m seeing the flag everywhere I look.
Even the school playground is showing solidarity with the Ukrainian people. As usual, I’m wondering what I can do to help and I end up sending money to whichever organisations or individuals are offering practical help to the refugees.
This week’s radio show celebrates World Women’s Day. Yes, I did that on purpose, because I can just hear William correcting me again: “International Women’s Day”. An all-female cast of performers of course. And thanks to Jenny for providing some brand new feminine jingles!
There was a power cut during the show’s first outing on Wythenshawe Radio so it dropped out for a couple of minutes. It’s being repeated on Tuesday 8th March at midday, that’s International Women’s Day, as well as on Wednesday at the exciting, brand new time of 10pm.
And just a reminder that we are in meteorological Spring now, looking forward to the Spring equinox and Easter and we can finally forget the long, cold, wet and windy Winter.