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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Thursday, 26 March 2020

Disconnected jottings - early days - Covoid 19

Thursday 26th March 2020

My tea consumption, and I guess that of the nation is getting out of hand.

I decided on scrambled egg on toast for lunch. I took two mugs, broke and whisked an egg in one, put the bread in the toaster, switched on the kettle then put my tea bag in the cup with the egg. A message has gone viral amongst the family asking for a recipe that will incorporate the result.

Yesterday and today I have embarked on a project to walk up and down my stairs ten times none stop each day. This has started with good intentions,  any bets for how long it will last?

I will be going for short local walks on the roads. Until a few days ago I thought I would be doing no harm if I went into a remote area for a walk knowing that I would meet nobody, or at least maybe one or two other walkers. Now I realise that our voluntary Mountain Rescue teams will be compromised in the same way as our public services and it is not fair to go off somewhere where you could become a casualty as I know too well, although when that happened to me I did manage to get out on my own, but of course we who go out often tend to think we are well competent and it wont happen to us - DON'T DO IT.

I am well equipped for solo existence having lived on my own now for twenty three years - I read,  blog, cook, watch tele, play with Photoshop Elements, and communicate also by email with a network of a dozen or so friends and relations. I am not one for pubbing or clubbing and am quite lazy these days about making the effort to go to the cinema or other manifestations of the arts. My major interest is walking, most often on my own, but also very enjoyably with one or two very good friends and that is the thing I will miss most, but living with my own company is no problem. I know many people find that difficult and I sympathise.

My last book club read was a 500 pager - An Officer and a Spy, Richard Harris. That was a docu-novel about the Dreyfus affair, a true story of a Jewish French army officer wrongly accused of spying, an event that split families and the whole country down the middle according to which side one took - a brilliant read handled by Harris, a master story teller. Shades of Brexit, a word I haven't seen anywhere in the news for the last few days - do you think it has gone away?

We are now embarked on our next book - Charles Dickens, a Life - Claire Tomalin. I am 200 of the 400 pages in - not quite as exciting as the Dreyfus but an amazing amount of meticulous research and certainly worth a read - D was a far more complex character than I knew.

Arising from the Dreyfus it is well known that Emile Zola wrote a pamphlet in defence of Dreyfus called "J'accuse" and one of the book members was trying to find a Zola biography - I found one and left her a copy on the doorstep - this one is an 800 pager! A couple of days after I sent J an email asking if she had finished it yet - "only another 799 pages to go" was the reply. I also have a copy - it may well last the duration of our incarceration.

At some point in the year I convert from long trousers to wearing shorts most of the time. Yesterday out came the shorts - a double edged event, firstly a symbol of Spring, longer days and better weather, but on the other hand a reminder of how little those events will be taken advantage of, or perhaps a challenge to find worthwhile substitutes.

For years I have hated gardening - it is hard toil and whilst I enjoy and appreciate the results they are all too short lived and the weeds and grass have grown back in no time and you start all over again. But, I have spent an hour or so each day over the last two days concentrating on one small area each time and I can see that now being housebound for a long period I will be able to continue without the temptation of rushing off into the wilderness. I may even get to enjoy it - perhaps many of us will develop new skills or take up new pastimes?

Of course I am already longing for an end to all this and following in the footsteps of Mole in The Wind in the Willows - the quote is listed here in my sidelines, but no apologies for repeating it here.

Mole has suddenly realised that Spring has arrived.

"...he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said ”Bother!” and “O blow!” and also “Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously..."
Wind in the Willows


  1. I'm going to wager on a slightly different basis on your stair repetitions and say that you will complete the activity on 19 days out of the 21 of the current lockdown period. I'm giving you one day off for forgetting and one day when you just don't feel like it, but otherwise I reckon you'll find the motivation.

    On your novel tea-egg recipe, it put me in mind of an incident described in a blog post from Denmark in June 2017:
    "Being now well after 11, Mick wasted no time in preparing elevenses. Jam was smeared onto croissants and coffee made, but it didn't go well. Biting into my jam-laden croissant I discovered that it was stuffed with ham and cheese, and drinking my coffee I discovered that Mick had forgotten to remove the two slices of lemon which had languished in my mug from my previous two drinks. I can report that lemon coffee is a far worse taste sensation than a savoury croissant with jam."

    Then there was the incident just a couple of weeks ago when I had my bite-guard soaking in a cup of sterilising fluid next to the cup in which Mick was about to make a cup of coffee. I'm sure you can guess the result.

  2. You may be well equipped for solo living but try not to poison yourself.
    You are more organised than me with your plans, I take it the next book club meeting will be by video conference.
    I've slowly started with the garden but have lost the impetus for boring walks from home. I will have to come up with some theme to push me out.
    Everyone is saying 'stay safe' but probably just as important to stay sane.

  3. Gayle - Two out of two so far. I'm a bit worried about wearing out the stair carpet though. I wasn't sure what a bite guard was so I Googled - since I am obn my own I am not sure if I snore or grind my teeth so I'm not rushing out to buy one, even if I was allowed to rush out.


    BC - I don't think the meeting will be by video link - most of them are not that tech savvy but I doubt that we will be meeting physically. I have set up group email and we will probably coomunicate that way.

    Perhaps you could repeat the local walks walking backwards? There seems to have been no rime limit set for one's daily walk so you could do a one miler twenty times to keep yourself in tone.

  4. I’m doing the gardening too. Not very good at it, so will probably kill everything that’s currently growing 😆

    About to go out for my daily walk. Finding it difficult to maintain a safe 6 foot distance in our Manchester parks. It’s not the other walkers that are a problem, but large family groups, young children on bikes, and bl00dy joggers!

    Good luck with your stair climbing and stay safe x

  5. Ruth -I sense your frustration: joggers elciting a mild expletive from an educated, refined professional ! But worry not - better days will come. Here's a little story.

    Grande Randonnée walking in the alps back around year 2000 I met a Frenchman in the refuge and spent the evening talking in French. We had common interests and exchanged addresses and I corresponded with Sylvan for many years afterwards until I heard no more. He must have been in his eighties when I met him, but still fit and active.

    During that refuge conversation he told me he had met a party of Germans on the way to the refuge - the weather was bad and they were complaining, and I suppose thinking about his age he said "Moi - j'Ă©tais juste content d'ĂȘtre lĂ " ( Me, I was just happy to be there) a thought that one has more often as one becomes older.

    Regarding the joggers I may also have been irritated but for a different reason: jealous that I am no longer able to enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of running having had two new knees - at least one has done over four thousand miles and the other around a thousand so I have to make Sylvan's wise words apply.

  6. As a jogger in South Manchester (avoiding parks, obviously, as it's hard to keep the two metre distance), I'm finding that the few people I encounter either reciprocate my greeting (from the other side of the road after I've veered away from them) or shout something like "I wish I could do that".
    I've stopped using the towpath as the two metre rule is difficult to maintain, and there are bl00dy cyclists who give us joggers (and everyone else) no space!
    I was out for 40 minutes this morning and saw two joggers, three dog walkers, two miscellaneous, and half a dozen cars. Social distancing wasn't a problem.

  7. Phreerunner - Take care. Be on your guard for a potentially angry retired gp - I think she is now living closer to your patch.