Thursday, 28th January, 2021

[Day 318]

This morning proved to be one of the most entertaining of mornings. Our Waitrose delivery was delayed as the SatNav on the Waitrose delivery van had directed the driver down flooded roads in the area so the driver had to take a roundabout route to reach us. We collected our newspapers and then on our way to the park we met one of the Waitrose staff that we know well who had a trolley full of bunches of daffodils. Somehow, somewhere Waitrose had finished up with masses of bunches of daffodils far in advance of what they could sell. They had already reduced the price from £1.00 a bunch to 5p a bunch and then decided to give the rest away to clients of a local veterinary centre and a local garage. We had a long chat with the Waitrose staff member and we exchanged stories (what else?) about how members of our respective families were coping with the pandemic and whether they had received the vaccine or not. At the end of our conversation, we finished off with five bunches of daffodils and so made our flower-bestrewn path to the park. After our elevenses, we proceeded up the hill and called in at two of our friends to donate each of them a bunch of flowers (gratefully received?) Naturally, we all compared our various vaccination procedures which almost invariably dominates all of our discussions thee days. Finally, we popped in one of our neighbours to donate to her our last bunch of daffodils. She had received her call-up to be vaccinated at our local surgery in a few days time but had tried to get vaccinated at the local Artrix centre. If she had made it before 10.0am they could have squeezed her in but after that time they were absolutely inundated (and the word from the street was that they had managed to vaccinate at a rate of approximately 2,000 each day) So she decided, having waited for 10 months, to wait for a few more days.

I do not intend to tread much into the AstraZeneca row which is boiling at the moment. But I will offer just two thoughts, both of which give pause for thought. The first is a quote from The Lancet (read by many if not most GP’s) published on January, 9th 2021. Here is the relevant quote: ‘Only 1418 (12.1%) of those assessed for efficacy were older than 55 years of age meaning that…we cannot yet infer efficacy in older adults’ This would appear to be quite a damning quote, admitting that we did not have the evidence base for older populations. On the other hand, UK medical scientists have been piling in this evening with statements of support, indicating that they had seen data that tends to suggest that the immune response in the 65+ age-group is high (but where is the evidence?) This is one of those situations where only time (and the availability of more evidence) will prove one side right or wrong.

We are right in the middle of a fairly mild spell of weather at the moment – that, plus the fact that the days are getting lighter to the tune of 1.0-1.5 minutes per day surely makes the spirits rise a little. Also, when we handed out our bunches of flowers (courtesy of Waitrose!), it was amazing to see how they lifted the spirits of the recipients. Of course, our own crocuses are out at the moment and daffodils will follow quite shortly. We also observed a Japanese flowering cherry which (I think) is on the point of bursting into bloom. One of the memories that we have when we used to Spain in January was to make a trip in the Alpujarras (mountainous area) to visit some of the highest villages in Spain. At some of our stopping off points, we used to marvel at almond blossom in full bloom right in the middle of the winter snows. I have been collecting empty boxes because I have a half-remembered idea (from somewhere) that I can get some seeds going at this time of year (perhaps some beet, leaflet, early lettuce) and get them going on a window sill. Then they should be quite easy to thin out and even easier to plant (as the fibre of the egg boxes should just rot away and of course, spacing becomes incredibly easy) As soon as I have acquired some more small wine bottles, then I can carry on with my damson-gin bottling activities as I still have several litres left to get processed. I must admit that of the two seasons, Spring and Autumn, I have a marginal preference for Autumn but after a year such as we have had with the pandemic, who can fail to look forward to the spring, particularly as the end is just about in sight!