October and month 8 of living with the pandemic.
October started with more signs that the ‘normal’ things of daily life were re-emerging – appointments for a dental check-up, a call for the annual ‘flu jab, and the one most on my mind – the annual service and MOT for my car!
This had been the moving force behind the long, slow return to driving that had dominated several months of lock-down. And all the hard work paid off handsomely, as I drove alone through mid-morning traffic to deliver and then collect the car. A great feeling to be back as a competent and safe driver!
The month was so full of practical needs that I took a break from my usual Flickr routine (16 photos to my more usual 24).
October means autumn this far north, and the garden needed readying for winter. This year had seen an explosion of growth – everything from weeds to trees seemed to flourish and grow alarmingly! The autumn colours were glorious, but short-lived as storms and gales stripped the leaves.
So there was much to do, and many visits to the local recycling point! And like so many everyday things the pandemic means we have to plan for every visit – book online for a 15 minute slot, take the print-out of our slot, and then make sure you arrive roughly on time! It’s a routine we are now used to, appreciate and are happy to keep even after the pandemic …. but it does mean we need to plan in advance!
Then there was the boiler emergency. We found the boiler controlling our central heating and hot water couldn’t be turned off! And worse still, the hot water was always on too, overheating! So we needed urgent help as we poured boling water down the drain! The worst problem was sorted quickly, so we could turn off the entire boiler. But getting the central heating and hot water un-coupled took longer. Another chunk of time and energy!
We did manage one short trip out to Fyvie Castle grounds.
Locally, the signs that the harvest was over for the year were apparent. I love the fields when the barley is cut – the lines are wonderful (computer controlled machinery, of course in our 21st century world)
Walking round the loch made for a refreshing sunny morning away from the demands of house and garden…
…. and the autumn tints were beginning to show, despite the extremely wet and windy month. Even the raindrops made for some lovely photo opportunities!
At home I began to work again on my Canon 70D project, to master the skill of in-camera multiple exposures. It’s amazing how quickly you forget the details of how a camera works, and the techniques of getting what you want from the shots you take!
so I started again by shooting around the house and blending the shots in Photoshop.
And, as we couldn’t get out as much as wanted, we strolled down the village to the Kirk.
I’m ashamed to admit that I rarely visit the Kirk and surrounding kirkyard, though it is on our doorstep. I guess a lot of times we overlook the closest things, and go in pursuit of the more ‘interesting’.
Some years ago there was extensive ‘rescue’ work done to save the facade of the old Kirk that is in the Kirkyard, and was being overgrown by ivy. So I wanted to catch the sun on the newly revealed facade. The day was cold, and the sunshine was soon overtaken by the rain clouds – but I managed a few good shots. And I am determined to return and shoot the Kirk through the seasons!
And finally – how was the pandemic playing out?
Since the re-opening of primary and secondary schools the infection rate started to rise noticeably. The next step was to start the academic year for colleges and universities. It doesn’t take a genius to guess what happened next! We knew it would lead to growing infection rates, and as October played out the numbers catching and passing on the coronavirus grew exponentially. The figures for any area were expressed as numbers of positive cases per 100,000 people. And here is a snapshot of Scotland on October 20th.
In Aberdeenshire we are relatively low down the administrative areas – though we are affected by the ripple effect of Aberdeen city. Plenty of people live in the shire and work in Aberdeen. So as the month closed Scotland was divided into 5 levels, each with differing levels of restrictions. We were in Level 2, along with Aberdeen city. It meant:
Scotland wide rules:
Shops have been asked to reintroduce two metre physical distancing rules and reintroduce some measures which had been taken earlier in the pandemic, such as one-way systems in supermarkets.
The use of face coverings is now mandatory in indoor communal settings, such as staff canteens and corridors in workplaces.
Face coverings are also compulsory in shops and on buses, trains, trams, planes and taxis.
People are also being advised not to share a vehicle with another household. Where you have no other option, the advice is to keep windows open, wear a face covering and sit as far apart as possible.
People have been banned from visiting other households indoors since 25 September, when restrictions in the west of Scotland were extended to the rest of the country.
Some of the new rules are similar across levels one, two and three:
Places of worship can open with restricted numbers (50 people), and there is a 20-person limit for weddings and civil partnerships, and for funerals, wakes and receptions.
Schools will remain open, but senior secondary school pupils in level three areas must now wear face coverings in class, not just in communal areas.
Colleges and universities must use blended learning, and driving lessons can also take place.
In level two:
pubs and restaurants can only serve alcohol with a main meal. They must close indoors at 20:00 and outdoors at 22:30.
Cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades are allowed to remain open. While stadia will be closed to spectators, drive-in events are permitted. All sport is allowed, except indoor contact sport for over-18s.
In addition people in Levels 1 and 2 are asked not to travel into Level 3 areas unless essential – and Level 3 people are not to travel to Levels 1 and 2.
That is quite a lot to absorb.
As far as we are concerned, as long as we can travel to the coast and places for exercise and fresh air we are content. Shopping is all online with delivery service.
So as October ends we are in Level 2 and hoping that the Level system will help to contain and then reduce the infection rate. But we are not feeling optimistic!
Personally I think that until senior school pupils and college students are working from home by remote learning we will not see any improvement. The numbers of people in hospital, in intensive care, and dying are the true indicators that are inescapable facts. And all three are alarmingly high! And like the first wave, this second wave is hitting the older age groups. So there is a sombre feeling here as we approach the winter months.
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