Tag Archives: social distancing

The Gradual Lifting Of Restrictions

I have not really let myself dwell on all the things we have missed out on during the Pandemic. Some of those things – for example eating at a restaurant – well I know from my travels that there are countless millions upon millions of people who have never had the chance to go to a restaurant and be waited on. So it seems wrong, totally wrong, to bemoan not having luxuries that others find hard to imagine.

I have missed hugs. I have missed being in the same room as my family and friends. I have missed many of the projects and training sessions where I was able to see volunteers I have worked with many times for years. But restaurants, theatre, cinema, commercial flights – I have not missed those things.

But now that some of the restrictions we have had here in the UK are gradually lifting, I am enjoying some of those experiences. I have enjoyed being in the gardens of friends having a drink and a laugh with them. I enjoyed Jack taking me out for lunch. We have no plans for the cinema yet – not much in the movie world looks remotely interesting currently.

I am looking forward to seeing my family at last – which hopefully I will in July (so long as “the numbers” stay low!) and being able to hug them!!

CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL BAR IS OPEN!!!

Did I ever imagine that today I would be hosting a virtual party on WordPress? Nope!!! But the plan changed last weekend when the UK government announced that London and surrounding areas are in Tier 4!! So thousands of people will be alone today – just like me! However, all is not lost, because we know how to throw a party!

So whether you are in London or anywhere else, all alone or just trying to escape the noise and in your household for a few minutes – please drop by today and say hello in the comments below! Tell us what you are drinking at home or place an order at CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL BAR. We serve cocktails and mocktails and the finest champagne!

There will be little nuggets to look OUT FOR TODAY – we have music, comedy and hopefully the games we planned will work too! But whatever you do – please know that if you are alone geographically – you do not have to be alone at all today. There is an amazing bunch here on WordPress who are determined to help everyone get through this cold, dark and perhaps challenging time.

I am going to start the day with things we would love for you to share with us:

  • Can you tell us which songs cheer you up – they don’t need to be festive – we just want to hear music that lightens our spirits and brings a smile to our face. You can leave an artist and song title and I will find a video to link to the comments or if you know how to do it, then please leave a video link yourself.
  • For those of you who have cameras and can load a picture onto your blog. Could you take a photo of something you are eating today – be it a cooked dinner, a cake, or something healthy – can you post a photo and pingback to this post so we can all drool over what you are eating please?
  • Do you have a favourite comedy sketch? It might be classic comedy or a spoof sketch. Could you find a video and leave a clip? Or give me some clues so I can find a clip to post? (Nothing offensive though please – this is an international party and we want everyone to feel welcome!)
  • Are you a poet? could you leave us with a few lines about either cocktails, parties, how to cope with being alone, showing unselfish love, or anything else that warms our hearts on a day when many of us will be missing our loved ones
  • Do you have a favourite blog post from either your own website or another blogger’s site that has brought a huge smile to your face during 2020?
  • Is there a special someone you want to give a shout out to? Let us know who you are missing most and who you would be with if it was not for the pandemic restrictions!

PLEASE DROP IN TO THE COMMENTS BELOW WITH ANY COMMENTS, VIDEO LINKS OR PINGBACKS

WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SHARING TODAY WITH YOU!

When I say “we” I mean the royal we – as in me. But I know Jack and some of my other friends will be checking all the comments too.

To give you an idea of some of the amazing bloggers who have been making WordPress a sensation throughout 2020 here contributions from two of my favourite bloggers:

The incredibly talented Roberta Cheadle, the creator of Robbie’s inspiration has created an entire village from chocolate and gingerbread!!!!

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2020/12/24/gingerbread-and-chocolate-christmas-diorama/

One of the bloggers who warms my heart and makes WordPress an absolute joy for me is Kristian, the creator of Tales from the mind of Kristian, has been recording songs that have certainly cheered me up right down to my toes!

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2020/12/21/silver-bells-some-christmas-music/

This one is special – for all of us who are physically ALL MY OURSELVES – we can be united and connected with the people dearest to us and the most fabulous bloggers through WordPress and YouTube and Zoom and Instagram. I am not always a social media fan and truth be told – I am a bit of a technophobe – but when technology is used to warm hearts and be a positive influence on each other – kudos to that!!! Thank you Kristian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THIS FRIDAY – CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL CLUB!

You may have heard about the London lockdown which started on Sunday and will mean that thousands like myself will be all alone throughout the holidays. Well, in response I am hosting a virtual party. On Friday – CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL CLUB will be open and very glad to have you drop by!

Until then I am working every day, but I am very excited that there are so many ways we can connect during a time when we would normally be with our loved ones. The theme for CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL CLUB is simply FUN! We want you to bring music, laughter and anything that will warm our hearts and cheer us up at a time when many of us are all alone!

If you are anything like me you may have shed tears on realizing there will be no hugs and games with family and close friends. But we are going to rock being alone over the holidays with one spectacular virtual event!

Remember everyone – we are doing the right thing! We are protecting our loved ones! So we are going to make sure we have the kind of party that we deserve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ARE YOU READY TO PARTY?

London – We Can Do This!

I know….I know….this is not what we were expecting or hoping for. London and surrounding areas – we are grounded, exiled to home. No seeing any family or friends outside our own household for the foreseeable future – that’s right – all on our own throughout the holidays!

You have to laugh or you would cry hey!

So here I am raising my hands to make it clear I will be one of the many thousands of people who live alone in London who will literally be all by myself from Friday to Sunday! My support bubble (Jack) had already left London before the Tier 4 announcement! He is obviously going to stay up in the Lake District for at least a week.

We spoke on the phone earlier and he said “you will have to host an event on your blog inviting anyone to drop by and chat throughout the holidays” – with special guests anyone who is like me – all on our own!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it?

So….look out for a post on Friday – Caramel is running a special event this year. I have decided to open up Caramel’s Cocktail Club and I will be inviting you to drop in and say hello, tell me what you are drinking or what you would like me to mix up for you. Jack is trying to help me set things up for some online games on the blog if anyone wants to join in the fun. Feel welcome to drop in songs, funny videos to cheer us up or leave anything to help the thousands like me who will be ALL ALONE!!!!!!!!!

Thank You For Your Extraordinary Sacrifices

Sun Reflection, Color, Colorful, Background, Art

Throughout this year that has presented for some people unprecedented challenges that they have found hard, there have been some outstanding demonstrations of love and unselfishness and endurance. I have been so proud to be a little cog in the NHS system. I am proud of all my colleagues who have gone the extra mile and stayed late and gone without breaks and worn uncomfortable PPE all day – amazing!

Do make sure that if you are resting and relaxing and enjoying time with your nearest and dearest that take practical measures to stay safe. I know it is hard. But we don’t want you or your loved ones being carted in to the very stretched facilities we have. But hey the NHS is fighting for you! I have to say by the stacks of biscuits and chocolates that have poured in these past few weeks it looks as if local people appreciate it.

❤ Please stay safe. We love you. But we don’t want to see you in hospital. ❤

…to anyone who seriously believes this pandemic is a hoax – you must think that my colleagues and I are very odd people to be playing a game with everyone else! Nope – sorry – it is real. But the way you behave can make a difference.

❤ So please do! ❤

If I could record every act of love and unselfishness and extraordinary caring from those who work in the health service and many other key workers who were under pressure this year – that would be something extraordinary to celebrate. But what everyone in the NHS knows is that it is because of you, and you, and you, and you and all of us – quarantining/self isolating when we have symptoms or after travel, washing our hands, wearing those face masks and restricting the way we socialize that has made the biggest difference.

What an extraordinary and wonderful collective act of unselfish love! Thank you for every sacrifice and every considerate choice you have made. We are not out of the woods yet! But please remember – you make a difference.

❤ So please do! ❤

But please don’t undo the good of all the efforts and sacrifices people have made this year. Please don’t make even harder for the NHS. Please enjoy the holidays ahead while remembering that we are still in a very hazardous period. So please be careful. We want you to be as healthy and as happy as possible.

Such A Drama Queen!

I was going to write a post about what I saw when I finished work on Saturday. It looked to me as if the whole of London had been invited to a party and I was not on the guest list! I was surprised to see the pavements packed with hundreds of people in their gladrags, make-up like they were in a pantomime, covered with bling bling and wreaking of strong perfume.

Where were they going? None of my business, but from what I saw, a lot of people were on their way to take advantage of up to 30 people (which is supposed to be from two households) being allowed to party together, before the change that started on Monday…only 6 people (from two households).

But I have a better story for you…it is my friend who had arranged a big-ish party for next weekend, which I was invited to. I had already said no, because I don’t feel comfortable going to a large social event while I am still interacting with so many vulnerable patients. But now she has had to cancel her party. Oh wow! I forgot how much of a drama queen she could be. She called me in tears and asked why we are not allowed to live yet. I tried to reason with her, but I don’t think I got anywhere. She is fuming and seemed inconsolable.

She will have to accept that big and medium parties are on ice at the moment. Only six people are allowed. Just think of all the fun a group of six could have – you could play Cluedo, you could play Pictionary, or even Twister! It will be just like the old days when we used to have little get togethers.

But come on drama queens – is it really that big a deal to ask you to socialize in small groups until the danger has passed?

I am already counting my blessings. The way things are going there might not be any trick or treaters – that would be an amazing result!….and Jack and I will be allowed to sneak off to a romantic hideaway for the holidays (that would be because both of us have lots of family, so we might volunteer to give up a place at the dinner table so others can claim it). We might be able to hire a cottage and snuggle up for a week all on our own! (Do you think the NHS is going to let me have a whole week off work at the end of December? Nope! The rules are no holidays during December.) But still….not having to upset any family by choosing where we spend the holidays would be awesome. This year might end on a high afterall!!!

From Practical Precautions To Paranoid Pandemonium

You do not need me to tell you that 2020 has been pandemonium…and it is not over yet. I have a feeling that this American election is going to mean that 2020 ends on a bang – not in a good way. What I mean by that is whatever the result is, there is going to be a lot of whinging.

Year 2020, Grass, Graphic, Nature

I did not start this post to talk about politics. Oh no. I felt I wanted to write a post for Paula Light’s MONDAY PEEVE (please don’t tell me it is not Monday, I am not in the mood). Yes, that’s right, it is one of those weeks. After being with my family and Jack I have come back to London in a flump. I am a bit of a grump because of feeling discombobulated by this year. But I am not the only one, and I do not want to have a general peeve about a situation we are all in.

Coronavirus, Quarantine, Mask, Covid-19This is a more specific peeve. I totally understand that we are still very much in that phase we need to STAY ALERT. I would only encourage everyone to take precautions, especially in line with local guidelines. I do believe that most people have tried to do their bit to observe guidelines that they can see our designed to protect. However, there have been lots of people with their own interpretation of what social distancing means. At times when people with different attitudes cross paths, conflicts can occur. I have seen it at work, patients yelling at each other, because one patient thinks some else was too close to them.

Here in London, it’s all a bit weird. Everyone seems to be either interpreting the “guidelines” differently (and I acknowledge with all the chopping and changing, not many are sure what the those guidelines are from day to day). but as far as it effects me, this is my day to day life now. As well as wearing PPE at work for many months, now I wear a facemask when I go shopping. That’s a legal requirement (as far as I understand) although some people have exemptions. I am still not using public transport on a regular basis, but recently I caught the tube to Euston Train Station, so of course I wore a facemask for the whole journey.

Girls, Women, Young, People, WearingAs far as I was aware, keeping a distance was still supposed to be very important. In the local shopping precinct there are arrows and signs asking people to observe a “one-way traffic” system. Do you think anyone follows the one-way system? Not when I am walking through the concourse.

I went into a shop recently where they have just installed self-service tills. Self-service tills have been around for years, and I often use them. However, even though I was the only person arriving at the tills, a member of staff still wanted to bound up to me, seize the two items I was purchasing from my hands and operate the self-service till for me. She was just inches away from me the whole time. Perhaps I look like someone who is incapable of operating a self-service till myself…I don’t know?

Tube, London, Underground, StationTo be honest, there are times when it is nearby impossible to keep a distance from other people here in London. I have not used public transport in a long time. I have been walking everywhere for months, but the pavements and supermarkets have been getting steadily busier. Everyday, I pass very close to people. I am sure we breath in the same air. I am not overly anxious. I have never been anxious for myself from the start of the …you know. My main concern was always eliminating ways I could become a vehicle for the virus because I was working with vulnerable patients.

As you know last week, I travelled up to the North of England. There was some even weirder weirdness than anything I have seen in London. Parts of the North have been under stricter social distancing these past few weeks because of a surge of cases. But I was travelling to Cheshire and so far, they have not had the stricter lockdown measures reinstalled. However, like the rest of the country, I expected to see facemasks and some social distancing in operation.

I was nervous about travelling across the country. But I had nothing to fear. Normally, I am thrilled to find an empty seat on a train from London to the North. But for an £11 ticket, on this occasion we had an entire carriage to ourselves. That’s right, there was nobody sitting in the same carriage as I was (except Jack of course). We still kept our facemasks on the whole time.

On the day we arrived the rain was absolutely teeming down. On arriving at the station up north, I wanted to use the Ladies. There was one of those yellow plastic display boards outside that said “CLEANER AT WORK” on one side and “CAUTION – WET FLOOR” on the other side. I presumed they had put it there because of the rain water all over the station platform. When I pushed the door open and walked in, there was only one free cubicle (I think there were six cubicles in total.) I was only surprised because since arriving on the platform I had only see three other passengers. On leaving the cubicle I washed my hands at the sink at the same time as two other women. We automatically spaced out across the bank of sink basins. A member of the station staff came in and started to clean the sinks at the same time as we were using them. She was standing right next to me while I was drying my hands. (This may not seem interesting, but wait for what happened on my return journey through the same station).

Jack and I made our way up to the barriers to exit the station and bundle into the car of one of my relatives (who does not like mobile phones) waiting to collect us. I have been to that station many times and that is always the way out of the station. But the barriers would not open for us. I looked for a member of staff. There were three of them huddled together, not wearing facemasks. When I tried to tell them the barriers were not opening, the guy I spoke to looked at me as if I was in idiot. He told me that we had to walk to the opposite side of the station to leave.

Woman, Platform, Waiting, Train, TracksSo we traipsed through the empty railway station and left on the opposite side of the station. We then walked around the station in the pouring rain. The rain had been very heavy so the pavements were flooded with several inches of water, we had to walk into the road (which was a national speed limit A-road, but fortunately pretty quiet at the time we were rumbling along with our suitcases). I did have an umbrella, which Jack held over us to keep the rain out of our faces, but by the time we made it to the front of the station where the car was waiting for us, we were soaked and our suitcases were soaked.

I was upset when we reached the home of the family members we were staying with. The anniversary card and gift I had bought were soaked through. My shoes and clothes were wet too. That’s what happens when instead of being allowed to walk through a barrier inside the station, you are made to walk around the station in heavy rain. It made me disgruntled. In London a simple cordon ensures a one-way flow of traffic in some rather cramped stations, or else there is no one-way system. Here we were up north at a large airy station with hardly any passengers to be seen and we were given a drenching by a monsoon shower to welcome us.

Bunting, Flags, Blowing, Breeze, WindAnyway…I had a fantastic time with my relatives and tried to forget the bleak arrival. Eventually, we had had to tear ourselves away from the family and make our return journey to London. This time, we were able to pass through those barriers at the front of the station with ease. I was hoping things would be simpler on our return journey. But I had not reckoned with what would happen when I wanted to use the Ladies toilets again before we boarded the train.

I arrived at the Ladies toilets to find the same yellow caution sign outside the toilets. I pushed the door open and went in. This time there was nobody else inside. I chose a cubicle and went in. After around half a minute I could hear a woman’s voice speaking to somebody else. I was inside the cubicle, so I was not sure what was going on but I heard the woman saying, “You’ll have to wait, I need to go in first. Just wait here until I tell you you can come in“. I did not hear the reply from the other woman, but then the first voice said, “That’s what the sign is there for“.

Wc, Toilet, Purely, Public ToiletWell, by this stage I was almost ready to leave the cubicle. I waved my hand across the sensor to trigger the flush mechanism. I could hear the same voice calling out, “Just stay there. I can’t have anyone near me. I’ll tell you when you when I’m finished”.

I opened the cubicle door and recognising the same little lady who had cleaned the sinks the day I arrived, I walked past her and went to use the sink at the opposite side. She then started to yell at me, “I told you to stay where you are. Are you deaf or something? I can’t have anyone near me when I am working. We are supposed to be keeping at least two metres away (I was around four metres away from her at this point, still wearing my facemask). You were supposed to stay in the cubicle until I have cleaned the rest of the toilets and sinks. I will tell you when you are allowed to leave“.

I am so glad the facemask was hiding my expression. Genuinely I did not realize she was addressing me. She could have perhaps knocked on the door of the cubicle to make me realize that she was telling me to stay inside the cubicle. I was bewildered by what she said to me, especially as several days earlier she had decided to stand next to me and clean the sinks at the same time as three of us were trying to wash our hands and make out way out onto the platform.

Washing Hands, Wash Your Hands, HygieneAlready in the process of washing my hands, I paused, and then replied, “Why don’t I just finish off and get out of your way?” I held my hands under the heated air dryer. I could hear her mumbling but could not make out her words. Once the dryer had stopped, I indicated that I would pass to make my exit. She said to me, “Why can’t you just follow the rules? Haven’t you heard of coronavirus?” I was baffled. I was truly baffled. By this point I was ticked off. Falling back on what is normally a reminder to other people that I have been in the trenches during this pandemic, I said, “I work for the NHS“. She said “You should know better!

I just made my way out, wondering when it became so stressful to use the Ladies toilets at a railway station. I am not surprised the travel industry is in a pickle. We have all had to adapt to what has been asked of us (which is important). For the most part people are doing what they have been asked. But then we venture out away from home and find a whole other set of rules.

Upset, Sad, Confused, Figurine, UnhappyOr perhaps not. Perhaps there is not another set of rules at all. Perhaps we are just coming across people at different ends of the spectrum. The spectrum that starts with people who don’t seem to care at all…has a middle zone of people taking sensible precautionary practical measures to protect themselves and other people…and at the other end has people who seem paranoid and pedantic.

I empathise with all sorts of business and retailers who are trying to get the balance right between “customer service” and keeping staff and customers safe. But even when you have to ask a customer to observe a rule, there is a polite way to do it. Frankly, I thought that the member of the station staff cleaning was rather rude. However, she obviously thought I was inconsiderate. Somedays I do not know what to make of it. I am going to draw a line and put it behind me because I don’t feel bad.

Corona, Mask Duty, Protective MaskJust like the vast majority of people, I have made many sacrifices as was asked of me, including holidays, social gatherings and freedom to do as I please. I have worked overtime for months. The first time I have seen my family since December and it was a great week. I wear a facemask all day at work and whenever asked to do so. I keep a distance wherever possible. I have even gone the extra mile and stopped using the communal kettle and microwave at work, I always take a flask and a salad for lunch. I know that I have been taking sensible, reasonable, practical precautions and have completely changed my lifestyle because I care about interrupting the spread of a virus that threatens precious older and vulnerable people. So I am not going to let one station employee belittle me and label me inconsiderate.

I am just going to hope that she does not use that rather questionable term “…are you deaf?” towards any other passengers. If she does, I think she is going to get herself into trouble.

Two Metres

I have tried to stay out of any debates on the decisions governments have to make as they balance protecting people’s lives and trying to sustain some sort of livelihood for their population. I have just tried to cooperate with whatever has been asked of us.

Social Distancing, Virus, DistanceThe TWO METRE issue is being argued about at the moment. For the sake of the economy, some people want it to be reduced to a metre (or somewhere in between).

We hear this term over and over “the science says”. So far science has said exactly what the scriptures said 3,500 years ago in the Mosaic Law.

But my twopence on this two metre debate is simply that where I work, my colleagues do not/are not able to maintain a two metre distance. I go to the supermarket, people are queuing outside maintaining a two metre distance, but once inside that seems to go out of the window.

The route to work is getting busier. More and more people on the pavements, most not concerned with keeping a distance from each other. In practice it seems that most people are operating a half meter or a meter distancing at my work premises and in the local supermarkets, and in these London streets.

Human, Woman, Social Distance, LonelySo my concern is, if the two metre rule is reduced, people are going to be more relaxed, especially here in parts of London where we are already becoming squished together at times.

I am not worried about me. I am worried that I may be a vehicle for passing on this virus to our vulnerable patients.

I am trying to stay balanced. The hospitality industry is in big trouble. Its alright for me…I have always preferred a quiet country pub to one of these packed London pubs or clubs. But I don’t have a job in that sector (not at present, have done in the past).

But I guess these decisions have to be made at some point. These are not easy decisions.

Would You Like To Be In A Bubble With Me?

Soap Bubble, Butterfly, Cornfield, LightPlease don’t think I personally am in any way mocking the latest ease in restrictions within the UK. I think it is a very kind and helpful idea that will make a difference to some.

But I have already had six text messages from people asking me if I want to be in a bubble! Spoilt for choice. One of them is my ex (you know the one before I met Goldfinch), and the answer is “NO WAY”!!!

I have had three male friends ask me…and I think they are asking every female in their contacts. I have two female friends who have said for weeks they were struggling with loneliness. Both of them are alone in this country with their family in other European lands (or the mainland as my beloved Goldfinch used to call it).

Cup, Mug, Tea, Bokeh, BeverageI thought I would suggest they team up together. I am working so many days, I am not sure I want a friend staying at my place and making a mess. I would have more cleaning to do on my day off.

Or…maybe they would do the cleaning while I was at work…and the laundry and ironing. Maybe they would cook dinner for me so when I came home from work I could just relax. Actually…a bubble is suddenly sounding like a great idea!

But I am fussy…perhaps I will advertise my requirements for a bubblemate. They would have to be clean and preferably vegetarian. Non-smoker goes without saying. There is nowhere to park a car here. Someone who didn’t have loads of stuff. I don’t have much storage here as it is. Someone who can make a mean cup of tea!

Applications can be made in comments section below.

Damn These Walls

Blur, Design, Fashion, Female, GownI had a song in my head all day yesterday….all on account of Goldfinch. Sigh…this is one of the songs that makes me think of you…that makes me think of you.

I just want to be by your side. If only these wings could fly. Oh damn these walls. Sigh…if these wings could fly.

Some songs just seem to perfectly capture your mood. This is one of them. Perhaps it is all made twenty times more intense by these lockdown, social distancing, closing borders times we are experiencing because of the …you know.

But I have started to feel a sense of panic that I just do not know when I will see him again. Oh what a to do! Our hearts play funny games with us – do they not!

I am very much in love with Jack. But Goldfinch is my friend, my former lover who is still my friend and I love him very much.

Sunlight comes creeping in
Illuminates our skin
We watch the day go by
Stories of all we did
It made me think of you
It made me think of you

Under a trillion stars
We danced on top of cars
Took pictures of the stage
So far from where we are
They made me think of you
They made me think of you

Oh lights go down
In the moment we’re lost and found
I just wanna be by your side
If these wings could fly
For the rest of our lives

I’m in a foreign state
My thoughts they slip away
My words are leaving me
They caught an aeroplane
Because I thought of you
Just from the thought of you

Oh lights go down
In the moment we’re lost and found
I just wanna be by your side
If these wings could fly
Oh damn these walls
In the moment we’re ten feet tall
And how you told me after it all
We’d remember tonight
For the rest of our lives

If these wings could fly

Oh lights go down
In the moment we’re lost and found
I just wanna be by your side
If these wings could fly
Oh damn these walls
In the moment we’re ten feet tall
And how you told me after it all
We’d remember tonight
For the rest of our lives

Written By:  Ryan B Tedder and Jasmine Lucilla Elisabeth Van Den Bogaerde (aka Birdy)