Tuesday, March 10, 2020
It was my birthday on March 10 and I had a post ready to go on the day but the internet swallowed it. Alas. It was reasonably quiet as Mr. Waffle was busy and we were off skiing at the weekend (hollow laugh). We went out to Portrane for a peaceful walk along the coast.
We had a cup of tea in the hotel at the end of the walk. Much social distancing but still very much open.
Michael bought me an enormous bouquet of flowers. I was really touched. He went out on his bike to get them while I was taking herself to the dentist to get her braces tightened (fortuitous timing in retrospect). I think he was a bit surprised by the cost of flowers but he bore it bravely.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
All still pretty normal. My father was transferred to an orthopedic hospital which was very welcome but somewhat surprising.
Thursday, March 12, 2020
The Taoiseach announces schools, pre-schools and colleges are to close. My children are ecstatic.
One of our neighbours put a leaflet in the door offering to do shopping for older people and asking for volunteers to help out. Herself signed up and joined the Whatsapp group. For the moment it appears to be all willing volunteers and no one wanting our services but I suppose that may change.
Friday, March 13, 2020
We cancel our skiing holiday. Aer Lingus lets us change our booking at no cost. We book to go to Rome for a week in October. Fingers crossed. This doesn’t seem like a triumph but by the time my brother-in-law goes to re-book his flights, there seems to be some glitch on the website and he has to spend six hours on hold to the Aer Lingus helpdesk so, could have been worse. We are claiming from insurance for the chalet cost but Mr. Waffle is only moderately optimistic that it will be refunded.
Saturday, March 14, 2020
I drove down to Cork to visit my father in hospital. Normally I get the train but I decided, in the circumstances, that public transport probably wasn’t my best option. France closed the ski resorts. Too late for me. My brother, in Tignes, managed to pick up a flight home from Lyons on Tuesday for €1,000. Maybe the airlines won’t go under after all. I spent all of the three hour drive to Cork listening to Coronavirus podcasts. In retrospect, probably a mistake. My father was absolutely delighted to see me. When I arrived, he was gloomy and downcast and said that it was just as well I had come because he was probably going to die (he is normally not like this at all and appears to believe that he will live forever notwithstanding evidence to the contrary) but by the time I left an hour later he was laughing and cheerful. I was pleased I had come. His eyesight is so bad that he can’t read other than with a special light. He can’t listen to the radio unless the volume is deafening. I spoke to the nurse and she said I could bring in his lamp. I was a bit surprised but pleased.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
There was no mass. It was extremely odd. I went in to visit my father who was much more his normal self and only mildly pleased to see me which, in its own way, was a relief. I had cleaned his standard lamp with antibacterial spray (probably no harm in any event) but when I arrived in to the hospital with it clutched in my arms, I was told it couldn’t be let in which wasn’t entirely surprising but I did wish that they had told me the same thing the previous day. After visiting my father, I drove back to Dublin and listened to another three hours of Coronavirus podcasts. Probably peak panic.
Monday, March 16, 2020
My father’s hospital closed to visitors. I was doubly glad I had gone down at the weekend.
I can’t remember the last time I have been so keen to get into work. Once there, it was mostly logistics, getting any remaining outliers set up to work from home and agreeing various protocols. A lot of people were on leave anyhow as it was the Monday before a bank holiday and many of the rest were already set up to work from home. It was pretty empty.
At dinner, I asked, what we were all going to do in quarantine. Herself said that Shakespeare had written King Lear in quarantine. Setting the bar good and high for us all.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Undoubtedly the oddest St. Patrick’s Day I have ever had. No parades, obviously. I woke up the children by going around the house singing, “Hail Glorious St. Patrick” which was poorly received. I announced that we were going to climb a mountain in Wicklow and get some use out of the hiking boots we had bought for skiing. Also reasonably poorly received.
It was nice all the same though.
Since all the cafes were closed, I decided that we would take a picnic. We got a lovely picnic basket when we got married (great wedding present, if you’re looking for inspiration) but it is quite heavy so it only works for picnics where you picnic near the car, if you see what I mean. By the time we got back to the car after our walk to have our picnic the weather had clouded over a bit and we drove around looking for a handy state forest with a picnic table near the car park. We were all a bit hungry as well which is a dangerous time in family life. We drove into a forest car park, it wasn’t ideal but we went into the trees and I spread out the picnic blanket. Herself suggested that I move it away from the barbed wire. It didn’t rain but it was bleak. The vibe was more Von Trapp family fleeing the Nazis across the Alps than memorable fun day out. This picture fails to convey the utter bleakness of the event (barbed wire just out of shot).
By the time we had unpacked the picnic Michael and herself had already scampered back to the car clutching a bag of crisps each. Daniel stayed on like a trooper and Mr. Waffle and I each clutched a cup of tea from the thermos like drowning sailors who have been recently hauled from the water. I think we have to call it a failure, sadly. I tried to sell it as a bonding experience but the punters weren’t convinced.
The Taoiseach made an address to the nation that evening and I made the children watch. Michael said, “Gosh, these are historic times, somebody could have to write about living through this in the history exam in the future; I could be a person in history (this seems to be a question where they are asked to imagine they are a person living through say, the 1916 Rising or World War II and so on).” It might even be true, I suppose. I pointed out to him that my blog might be original source material for future history students and he said, “Poor them”. You wouldn’t want to be overly sensitive.
My brother got home from France safely and took himself off into self-isolation.
We always do the shopping online on Tuesday night for delivery on Thursday. It turns out we should have planned that a bit earlier. There were no online delivery slots to be had at all. We’ve signed up with a new supermarket which offered the 27th as its earliest delivery slot. Alas.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
The first day with all five of us at home. It was very odd. The children were in their rooms; I was in the study and Mr. Waffle set up camp in the utility room. I was impressed by the work technology and surprised and pleased at how much we were able to get done. I was also impressed by the children, they had work to do from their teachers and they set to and started doing it.
Daniel and I made bread. We were very proud of ourselves. We finished the strong white flour.
I went out to get more flour from the supermarket. I tried four supermarkets, social distancing the while, but there was no flour to be had. At the rate things are going, it looks like this may be the case indefinitely. I am hoping that we may get some from our online delivery on March 27 but who knows? Did I think we were a nation of bakers? I did not.
Generally, I seemed to be driving the children crazy with my incessant questions about their study routines and asking them whether they had got enough exercise but I felt this was better than their father’s lax regime which would let them stay in bed until lunchtime.
My friend in Paris and I agreed that Daniel would not be travelling to them for Easter. I am now playing chicken with Aer Lingus and hoping that they will cancel the flight and give us a refund. We will see.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
It was Mr. Waffle’s 50th birthday. Poor Mr. Waffle. What an awful way to have to spend a big birthday. We were supposed to be off skiing and I’d booked us in to a nice Michelin starred restaurant for dinner in Tignes. Instead he was stuck at home on lock down. I had bought him a voucher for a rather expensive wine tasting course to be held over May, June and July which now may never happen and I am worried that I may never get my money back. It was a pretty poor present in the time of plague lock down.
We made him pancakes for breakfast. I insisted that he work in the study and I took the utility room which was fine except when one of my colleagues asked me during a video conference meeting whether I was stockpiling Rice Krispies for the apocalypse. I mean, maybe. These were low level treats for a 50th birthday, I feel.
I made French onion soup for lunch and an elaborate stew for dinner as well as the standard issue family birthday cake and between that and work being pretty busy, I was exhausted by the end of the day. I’m not sure that working from home is all it’s made out to be.
Still, we did our best for dinner, we got the good cutlery out and we gave the cut crystal glass ware I got from a friend an outing and we sang happy birthday and we’re all healthy so, he could have it a lot worse, I suppose.
Still driving the children crazy by inquiring about their study routines and forcing them outside for exercise.
Friday, March 20, 2020
I was on a half day and went into the office in the morning to pick up some papers and do some work that couldn’t readily be done at home. While I was there, a cleaner came and washed my door handle and light switch three times. Work is pretty deserted and it is very easy to maintain social distance and I cycled in and out. So, ok, I think but it is very hard to know what’s acceptable.
In any event, the children really welcomed the absence of their mother, however temporary. Cunningly, I had arranged for them to be on Skype with their French tutor (currently on lock down in Paris) on Friday morning from 9.30 to 11.00 so they felt my presence, even in my absence.
Daniel, Mr. Waffle and I played tennis in the afternoon. There are three public courts in the park near us. One was occupied by people playing tennis. The other two were occupied by people playing football: four young men in one case and parents with small children in the other. I passively aggressively started playing on the grass verge nearby to no avail. An Italian woman with two young children came up and I said, “There’s no point looking bitter because it won’t make any difference.” The parents then said, “Come on children, we’d better go, we’re getting the evil eye.” And I felt like a heel. Worse, I think I was a heel. The Italian woman then, fearlessly, went up to the four lads, told them it was a tennis court and not for football, and they could play football anywhere and they just meekly packed up and left to play elsewhere. I was very impressed.
My sister contacted me to say that there was a case of Coronavirus on my father’s ward. The story moved around a bit and I am still not clear whether the patient was in the room he was in or not. In any event, he is not being tested as he is asymptomatic which is good, I suppose. We’re all a bit nervous. My sister has been talking to him a bit and she says he is good form. He is not answering my calls. Unclear whether this is because he’s screening my calls or not getting to the phone on time.
Mr. Waffle turned up in the kitchen with our Seanad voting papers and we dutifully voted; a plague is no excuse for forgetting to vote.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Still no word from my father. He’s talking to my sister though and he seems fine. Keep your fingers crossed. I thought we might need to self-isolate after visiting him but apparently not.
Otherwise, not a great deal achieved. Herself has decided to paint the ceiling of her bedroom during the pandemic. We got her paint.
How are things in your pandemic location?