Tuesday 24th March 2020
“…Will these hands ne’er be clean?”
I have never incited any one to murder knowingly or otherwise but for the last three or four weeks I have assumed the persona of Lady Macbeth, as I wash and wring my hands until they are red raw. This is my diligent attempt to sustain a condition of cleanliness. Now we have reached the end of the first week of self-isolation but the heightened hygiene continues.
Can it only be just one week ago when I made the first entry in my new Lady Macbeth’s Recorder Journal? My aim is to attempt to keep tabs on how the Covid-19 virus is affecting the lives of the Villagers in Trimley St. Martin. Reflecting upon the many implications for us all, it quickly became clear it would be important to capture news, views and the opinions of those around me, for future readers. My focus is on our village but of course, we are part of the wider world and so inevitably I’ve recorded other local, global and national events. On Day 1, my first action was to send an email to local people I either know or have interviewed, requesting a simple weekly report. People could (and can) contact me, either by email:
Alternatively, by using the email address in the first instance, I would then send my mobile details. Not everyone lives in the village but everyone contacted has a connection. Enough people replied to make this project viable and the result is this Blog. I hope to produce one a week for as long as this situation and my health continue. I will also try to produce non-virus related Blogs, although these may not be weekly for the time being.
Part of record keeping means I’m also trying to keep tabs on the headlines of the Trimley Facebook Page. Data protection prevents me from repeating the comments but perhaps it is enough just to know the headlines:
- offers of help to the community from the rapidly established Felixstowe based ‘Helping Hands’
- information bulletins published by Caroline Ley, Trimley St. Martin’s Parish Clerk
- reiteration about the closure of schools as from Friday 20th March
- pubs offering to provide take-aways upon request
- the Sausage Shop offering a collection service
- the postponement of various forthcoming performances at Two Sisters
- the transference of Felixstowe Book Festival’s Book Group to an online platform. Find it at: Ruth Dugdall Author. On Facebook. It will take place at 7.00 p.m. on Tuesday 7th April.
Many people are being imaginative and supportive in the way they approach this crisis. The Post Office and Goslings Farm Shop are the closest approximation to a supermarket/ We appear to have avoided the physical shopping crushes witnessed on television but shoppers have increased as they quest for the new toilet roll; potatoes.
Here are some of the replies I have received at the end of a long and strange week, expressing a range of emotions and feelings, which mirror those of the wider world at large, I suspect. They’re presented in strict alphabetical order, giving no one person greater preference than the other. (I am a Librarian after all.)
Experiences of a first time online grocery shop from a technophobe!
“Well, here we are needing to get groceries on line. An email from kind Morrisons informed me that they’re taking on extra delivery staff to assist with the present crisis, so being a ‘Match and More’ shopper, I thought here we go! I registered, got a delivery for 10 days hence, spent my £40 minimum and thought,
‘Wonderful, that was so straightforward, thank you indeed, dear Morrisons.’
The following day and thinking ahead I wanted to book another slot. BIG MISTAKE. I pressed the wrong button and CHANGED my delivery date. I went into panic mode and couldn’t see how to undo my last action. This was all before breakfast! I rang the help line and paced up and down in my worried state. My husband said I’d wear out the carpet! I paced in the garden, talking to the birds, hoping that would calm me, it didn’t! I texted my daughter, saying,
‘I’m too wound up to have breakfast’
She misread it and replied,
‘Don’t go hungry Mum, I can bring some porridge!’
Bless. She re-read it and phoned Clifford. All this whilst I was still holding on for Morrison’s reply. I could only listen to the answerphone telling me I must treat the family to doughnuts this weekend! I am not complaining about the wait, just mentioning how busy the help line staff were, probably with more people like me, for whom digital technology is still somewhat of a mystery. What a joy when the doughnuts turned into a real person! This lady was so calm, polite and patient. I explain my problem and gave her my postcode so she could find my order. Then she said,
‘Hold on as my computer is not responding, I’ll be back in a moment…’
More Doughnuts. Then she came back to me and said,
‘Just touch the Morrison’s icon on the right’
I was flustered and often have difficulty with rights and lefts, so I checked with her before pressing! She was wonderfully patient, especially bearing in mind how busy they all are. Having pressed the button, Eureka! my order with correct date is staring at me and there’s a slot to book my next order with an empty basket. The relief was indescribable! I copiously thanked this wonderful lady and have emailed my appreciation to Morrison’s online shopping. I have yet to see what will arrive, as panic buying and stockpiling seems to be rife. We shall see.’
Anonymous (A Head Teacher not in the Trimley area but within a twenty mile radius.)
A week in education – my musings!
During these unprecedented times, this is the week I have had to do something I never imagined I would have to do and that is close my school. This has not happened easily or without enormous preparation and exceptional work by all my staff.
On Monday this week, I think most headteachers had an inkling that this was imminent. My school had 4 members of staff self-isolating and class numbers were dropping daily, to an average of around 12 children in each class. We had a trip planned for Wednesday but this was cancelled. Teachers and TA’s are a phenomenal group of people and mine are the best. They kept children, safe and happy and continued to provide an outstanding education to the children in their classes. We also started to prepare some home education packs. We put together a leaflet of activities and websites to try at home and shared on our website, for parents to access when then need to.
The 5pm Prime Minister briefings have become the only source of information for headteachers to find out what is happening and on Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced it was time to close schools…except, schools were to remain open for Keyworkers… and no, the list of who is a Keyworker is not available. We found out about the closures at the same time as the general population. No advance warning, no support.
I waited all day on Thursday for the list, whilst fielding calls from worried parents, wanting to know if their occupation was classed as a ‘Keyworker’. I couldn’t answer their questions. The list was finally finished and published on Friday morning, along with a change that said only one parent needed to be a keyworker, not both.
My families were amazing! All parents understood that the very best place for their child was home. All those who could keep their child at home have done this. Whilst I was planning for the opening next week my amazing staff were rolling Mother’s Day, Easter and the end of term into a fantastic last day for all the children, topped with an egg hunt in our meadow.
I made a staffing plan whereby, from Monday all staff would need to work one day a week to keep our keyworkers children safe and cared for. This is a week by week plan. Many of my staff may fall ill over the coming weeks, many more may need to self-isolate. We will continue to carry on providing care for as long as the team are healthy and well.
My staff are understandably scared. Many have young families and are worried. I have approved every member of staff to bring their own children to our school on the day they have to work if they have no other care. I understand they want to keep their children close.
So, next week will be a new start for my school…
Well, as far as we are concerned…the paintbrush has been taken up in earnest! So far, I have done our sitting room… and now we are doing the kitchen. Of course, as soon as you do one room…the rest shriek at you! I think we will be very busy!
Also, it’s time to plant potatoes and parsnips…if the wind isn’t so chilly, I will get out there.
Trying to maintain my retirement routine: jobs in the morning; a cycle ride in the afternoon, with camera, of course. We did an online food order yesterday. It seems hopeful. No potatoes, but it changes daily.
Postponed a dentist check-up, and next week’s hospital appointment. It will now be a phone call. Makes sense
Earlier this week, I photographed a white deer. It seems it’s made its way to the East Anglian. Thursday I saw and photographed a large bird of prey over Gosling’s Farm and Loompit lake, but haven’t identified it yet. Possibly a Honey Buzzard, uncommon in the county
Cycling round the fields, numbers of other people seem to increase daily, with or without dogs. Most respect the ‘ social space’. Grass keeps growing, tadpoles are in the pond … life goes on.
Back in early February 2020 I developed a terrible headache, the area behind my eyes hurt, my joints hurt, I ran a temperature and had a persistent dry cough. Worst of all was the tiredness, I couldn’t even be bothered to go to the record office! As I’d had a belated flu jab a couple of weeks previously, I put feeling unwell down to that, swearing I’d take my chance with flu another year! Actually, it felt like flu, but a ghost of previous bouts of flu I’ve ever had – I could stand up! It was three weeks before I felt better and stopped coughing. At the time Wuhan, China flu outbreak had hardly been mentioned in the press.
The other day my daughter mentioned she’d had something similar the week following staying with us at half term. Whether or not it was the same thing, who knows? There is now talk of a test to see if people have antibodies of Covid-19…I can’t wait for it to become available. If it could be proved that virus is what I had, life would be a lot simpler, regarding shopping and so on. I have toilet rolls already, but today my home delivery from Tesco supermarket contained no meat. (Sorry Liz, I’m one of God’s carnivores) so I’ve had to delve into my small fridge freezer. It was like Christmas finding a joint of beef I’d forgotten about!
As it is, I’m not about to test my suspicions that it was Covid-19, so staying home, waiting for slightly warmer weather, and then spending time working in the garden. Should the test become available, I’ll let you know the result.
What an extraordinary, tumultuous week this has been, probably the longest that I can remember! Life as we know it has been changing like a set of dominoes, our freedoms and pleasures have been knocked down one day at a time.
Over the weekend Boris Johnson announced that vulnerable people including those over 70 would probably have to isolate themselves for some time. Then he wondered why people were panic buying. We came in to the vulnerable category and shopping has the potential to be a headache. Fortunately I did my ‘panic buying’ about three years ago, as I was concerned about a no deal Brexit and had a small supply of essentials. However, I thought and knew,
“We don’t have enough food for 12 weeks!”
For the first time in my life I made an inventory of everything we had in the freezer and what we would then need. Consequently, I was one of those people who went shopping in the afternoons, when it was quieter but came out with a sensibly stocked trolley. My excuse for doing this is I didn’t want to have to ask other people to shop for me, there are problems with online shopping and people are having to wait at least three weeks. I’m the sort of person that likes to see the shelves half full, rather than half empty though. All this shopping could be the death of me. Ah!!!!!
Going into isolation
This week I’ve been gradually going into isolation. Preparing mentally is difficult when it all feels so surreal. Both my children called me today to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. It was lovely to hear from them. I put the phone down and was deeply sad. It should be a joyful day, all meeting up for a family meal or country walk.
This was the week that changed my world. Choirs stopped singing together, my students cancelled, orchestra cancelled as well as two concerts that everyone had been working so hard for. All stopped. All within one week! All those decisions caused much anxiety. What do to for the best as everything is changing by the day. There’s not been anything like this in my lifetime and as the days creep on it’s getting pretty scary. The world is in a bad place right now. People getting ill from Coronavirus and so many deaths already. The world is in chaos and I fear this will change the lives of so many people. It will change the way we work and do things. It will change the way we communicate. Perhaps it will make us more compassionate to those we don’t always understand and love across borders. Yesterday we visited my sister. We usually hug. I looked as her as I left, with a tear in my eye.
Since last Monday, when everything started shutting down I’ve been so busy! Friends, groups of singers, musicians and family have all started using technology to link up and say ‘hi’! WhatsApp has been excellent to connect with my groups of choirs. There has been some hilarious chatter too, which makes us smile. There are others ways to stay in touch too and I shall be looking at creating a ‘room’ online to have a virtual choir practice! That will be interesting. It may not work for singing but it will be fun trying and seeing everyone’s faces.
I’ve been inspired to write a song eliciting thoughts and feelings from Felixstowe Harmonies Choir. The ladies are sending me some incredible words which I can use as lyrics. That’ll give me something to do in the coming weeks.”
An extraordinary week.
This has been an extraordinary week to say the least.
My daughter, who lives elsewhere, was quickly “packed up” on Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately, I was on the start of a 5 day stretch of time away from work. Sarah’s key worker met me at Next in Martlesham, to save me the full trip to and from her own home. I gave Clare, (key worker) a hug! Was this permitted?
I sat on my car outside the new large Boots at Martlesham and watched many harried looking people scurry quickly in out. Having Sarah with me is going to be a challenge: change in routine is stressful for us both.
I had been anxiously waiting to hear if my place of work would close. I received news that we would close on Friday, I was also told that because I am currently responsible for a someone, I would be exempt from having to continue to work my contracted hours in order to get paid. I was so relieved…
Meanwhile Sarah and I have been shopping locally. We managed to get the second to last chicken at The Sausage Shop. It seems some have the wherewithal to afford to buy and stock freezers…so there has been a shortage of products at our local butcher. They had no eggs, so we walked up to Goslings.
I can’t remember the name of the person who served us but she had been so very busy and hadn’t had any lunch. I would like to say to her,
‘You are a STAR.’
As for the chicken, it’s has provided four meals and two lunches!
Sarah and I are also taking advantage of these glorious Spring days. We “do” a circular walk and enjoy seeing Blackie and Shaun. We were lucky enough to meet their owners yesterday. What a lovely interesting couple. We passed many other walkers on our routes, keeping a safe distance, with smiles and helps. We are fortunate we can both go for a walk together. Some Trimley friends of ours are stranded in Spain; they are not allowed to go out together. But the shelves are well stocked, no panic buying there.
We carry on from day to day…
Parish Clerk responsibilities
Writing this on Tuesday 24th March, I realise that it is only a week ago that I was drafting the text to go on a flyer for delivery to every household in the Trimley St Martin, offering help with shopping or just the chance to keep in telephone contact . By Thursday I was collecting the finished version from the printer and, on Friday, setting out on the delivery round which covers that part of Trimley St Martin which broadly lies broadly to the north of the A14. There are not many houses on the route, but geographically this is a sizeable patch stretching from the Falkenham border in the east to the Levington border to the north west. This is a service which will become important in the weeks to come, but at least the basics are in place and Parish Councillors and volunteers have been out on their delivery rounds right across the village so everyone will know how to get help.
A lot of information is being gathered at District and County Council level so that they can map the initiatives being carried forward by Parish Councils and voluntary groups. They are also keeping a close eye on the spread of the virus within Suffolk: up to now the level of testing has been low and there is a general acceptance that the figures do not show its true extent. In contrast to all the worry about the potential impact of the virus it was delightful at the weekend to spend a little time loading up some of Robin Biddle’s beautiful photographs of Trimley onto the Parish Council website where everyone can see Spring looking as fresh and bright as ever, just as it should.
A busy and interesting week…
…Ironically, due to Covid 19. It has included:
- Two radio programmes, featuring five interviews with people sharing positive strategies to deal with the crisis.
- Training on the use of a Virtual Classroom at the University and my first virtual lecture at home. No sound from my laptop but lots of text chatting, and thirty Power Point slides delivered and discussed. It was just a test and only two students were online. But both said thanks! I think I should be able to crack this. Ironically I started my career in education as a research officer in e-learning 20 years ago and I have gone full circle. I will be doing all my personal and dissertation tutorials and meetings online now.
- Mothers’ Day, which was very different this year. Number one son came to cook lunch and bought me a jasmine plant. Number two son, a musician and music teacher and worried about lack of income and social separation, sang to me at the door and delivered flowers, Prosecco and home-made truffles.
- More than 11,000 steps today (22nd March 2020) About 33,000 for my cockerpoo Bess! My daily walks with her will become significantly important for me from now on due to the move to working from home. I am not good at staying in and we are so lucky in Trimley with some great walks.
- Through the Helping Hands initiative, I was asked to take a dog for a walk for someone who needed help. But unfortunately, the dog took an instant dislike to Bess which put paid to my activity.
This week I will try online exercise classes, walk (or run) 10,000 steps a day, do online tutorials and a lecture, attend an online choir rehearsal for Stellar Acappella and broadcast my Women’s Hour for Felixstowe with two phone-in interviews from women who are actively supporting isolated people.
Bored? Me? Never!
Parish Council thoughts
All Trimley St Martin residents should by now have received a flyer from the Parish Council headed, ‘Can we help you?’ This was thanks to Caroline, our Parish Clerk, who spent time writing and organising its printing. Kirton and Falkenham Parish Council have used the same flyer which Caroline kindly sent them.
For my part I counted and batched up each delivery round and distributed accordingly. So, thank you to all who helped with delivery. Of course, it helped that the sun has been shining and not raining. I recall delivering the Parish Pump in the rain on more than one occasion!
Speaking of sunshine, I hope during this time of keeping our distance from folk, everyone will endeavour to get some sun to ensure you receive a helping of vitamin D. So essential for our health, as is exercise. For bone health we need to be on our feet at least four hours a day. Another snippet of information is that it takes a mere two weeks of inactivity to lose fitness levels and at least five weeks to get it back. Hopefully, you will find ways to keep yourselves as fit as your health allows.
On a final note. The PC have received funding to produce a new parish footpaths map. This will show the diversions that are now in place following the closure of various rail crossings within our parish. It will also contain various items of local interest. We might say this is work in progress!
Now I must go out in my garden and water in a few plants that were installed yesterday. I will use a watering can as a little bit of weight bearing activity!
At the end of the first week of voluntary Social Isolation, the cases of Covid-19 in Suffolk have risen from three to twenty two. (Information taken from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51768274) Week two sees the introduction of enforced social isolation. (‘Stay home, Stay safe’). There will doubtless be different stories to tell next week.
If you have any comments or would like to be part of the Trimley St. Martin project, please contact me at:
Spring has arrived in Trimley