Tuesday, 9th June, 2020

[Day 85]

According to the weather forecasts, today was meant to be a bright and sunny day but it certainly didn’t start that way being somewhat cloudy and what I might call ‘brooding’ – however, the sun burnt through the cloud later on and we had quite a warm and pleasant day. On our way to the park, we were delighted to see some friends we had not seen for a day or so, so it was lovely to gossip and exchange news with each other. The park seemed to have more than its normal share of groups of mothers entertaining their pre-school offspring, so it does look as though this is part of a trend. On our way up the hill, we stopped to admire several of the front gardens which are at their best at the moment – yesterday, we had liberated some poppy seed heads from a venue where they were growing wild and unrestrained. I need to go onto the web, which I will shortly, to get some up-to-date advice as the best way to store poppy heads and their seeds. In the afternoon, it had been my intention to empty a dustbin which we have in an outside corner to rearrange its contents (largely things like gardening gloves, twine, supports of various kinds) but I didn’t quite get round to it. Instead, I hunted around for a small bag of pea gravel which I still had in an odd corner. I then divided this into four and carefully introduced it around the base of each of the supporting posts of my new fence/handrail. That having been done, I then located my tin of used motor oil which had been emptied from the mower and was waiting for the next trip to the local authority tip to dispose of it safely. In this case, I allowed the oil to penetrate the pea gravel and then gave it a light tamping with a flat stone I had to hand. The theory behind all of this is that fence posts always rot at ground level due to the combined effect of soil-based microbes, oxygen and moisture. Anywaything that can be done to eliminate these conditions will assist the treated timber posts to survive even longer. Having got this task completed, I then opened the tin of light-oak external wood paint as recommended by our painters & decorators and painted a sample timber with it. The results were quite good i.e. the natural grain of the timber still comes through without the timber taking on an orange-y suntanned hue (sometimes seen on American presidents we know well). As this experiment has worked well, the full painting job can be done tomorrow – and the gloss paint when it arrives might just make a good job look even better but we will have to wait and see.

It looks as though the government has bowed to the inevitable and realises that it not possible to get all children back into school before the end of term. There is also talk of trying to get secondary pupils back into school in September, if possible. David Blunkett (ex-Labour education secretary) was suggesting that with a lot of national will (as displayed by building the Nightingale hospitals in exhibition centres) we could get schools working again. His solution was to use a combination of reducing social distancing from 2m to 1m only for school children, using every inch of space e.g. school halls and gyms, using a shift system (e.g. 7-1, 1-6) or similar. You would have to give teachers a great deal of local autonomy for this to work and giving autonomy to teachers to try innovative solutions is the last thing in the government’s mind!

According to Sky News ‘New figures show around half of primary schools in England reopened to more children last week, as the government scrapped plans for all pupils to return before the summer holidays. According to the Department of Education, around 659,000 children attended an education setting last Thursday, 6.9% of all pupils who normally attend.