Another Covid-19 Post

We live in a global pandemic. Like it or not, it is the way it is.

As of today, more than 1.15 million people died of Covid-19 and more than 43 million cases were confirmed worldwide. And we are not yet at the end of it. No, we are rather right in the middle; weary, scared, annoyed, and a lot more – but at least alive!

Seven months ago the Covid level in the UK was raised to 4, meaning ‘the virus is wide-spread and the number of infections are increasing’. With it came the lockdown.

Three months later the level was reduced from 4 to 3, as the lockdown had helped to slow the wild spread of the virus. In Scotland we moved into phase 2 of the route map out of lockdown, and over the summer into phase 3, each step coming with more easing of restrictions.
We all had a bit of a breather. Me and my boys were cautiously optimistic and did our best to enjoy the summer holidays, though we didn’t take the risk of travelling.

In August the summer holidays came to an end, and a new life began for all of us: our boy started highschool. After five months of home schooling and without any organised sports classes, we fell into a new routine, with five days of school and two evenings of running in an athletics club. All the other pre-covid evening activities – fencing, swimming, and Scouts – were still cancelled due to being indoors and falling under tight restrictions.
All the while we kept our eyes on the confirmed cases, holding our breath, wondering whether the fact that school was back on, that people were coming back from holidays, that all in all people were more and more relaxed and less strict about sticking to the rules of social distancing, would see the number of infections soaring again?

At first they didn’t. But then they did.

Especially during September when the universities started opening up again and a mass movement of students across the country happened, in addition to all the other higher risk, infection transmitting factors coming into action – school restart, hospitality industry reopening, sport facilities reopening.

Since the end of September we are back to the UK Coronavirus alert level 4. The number of infections are rising, the virus is wide-spread.
In Scotland just now almost 1,000 patients are treated for Coronavirus in hospitals, about 100 of them in intensive care, and since yesterday 26 people died.
No surprise, we face tighter restrictions again. In the moment the pubs and bars stay closed, in the hope to keep schools and higher education open. But will it work? Halloween is on the doorstep, then Guy Fawks night, not long until Christmas. And naturally, with autumn and winter around, more and more things happen indoors rather than outdoors, which increases the risk of transmission significantly.

Well, we will find out.

Over the last seven months I have learned to stay in the here and now, to take each day and each challenge as it comes, to live within the limits set, and make the most out of it. There are things we can do or chance, and others we have to take as they are, no matter whether we like it or not.

After all, I have my boys, the three of us are safe and well. I know my family abroad is safe and well. And even though I miss a lot of things, I can perfectly well live with what I’ve got.

We just keep going. We keep sticking to the rules – wash hands, cover face, make space – and take it from there. We will get through this. Eventually.

A Good Running Week

It’s the last week of the school holidays, and my first successful running week for months! I ran a 7k on Monday, just on my own. Wednesday I met up with two of my running friends for two loops around the Meadows, but two turned three and with my run out and back I did a 10k run. Friday morning then I joined my boy and one of his running friends for a 5k canal loop.

And for today I had arranged to meet two other running friends for a Holyrood Park run. The road going through the park is closed over the weekend, so there is even more space for walkers, runners, cyclists, tourists; perfect for the three of us, keeping our distance, but still running together and chatting away. It took me three km to get there – and back afterwards – and I ended up with a 13 km run-walk over all.

With these four runs I managed a 35 km week. That is the highest weekly milage for the whole year so far. I am back running, and I am back into longer distances. Yipee! Now it’s time to set up a new training plan to get fit for a half marathon again. The Edinburgh Marathon Festival was initially postponed from May to September, and then changed into a virtual challenge – run the planned distance before the year ends to receive the medal as well as the blue t-shirt. And as we all know, I like a challenge!

From next week onwards, we are going into a new life with a new routine. It is back to school on Wednesday – after five months! – and start of high school. And my boy decided to try keeping his morning runs, even during school time: He is planning to get up before seven, run, shower, dress, breakfast, then school at 8.30am. As much as I am a morning person, I am not sure that works out. So, we will do a trial run on Monday and see if and how that goes. Another challenge …

I’ll keep you posted.

Let’s Play A Game

Today’s weather forecast is rather sad:

It’s going to be wet!

So, we decided to have a playing games all day day. Last night we all picked three games (ok, I picked four) from our son’s room, and after breakfast and a coffee we will start.

My man said he might make some peanut cookies later on too. Fine, as long as we don’t have to let him win to get him baking? Because I am going to win! 😉

Summer in the City

Today is the last day of July, and it was the hottest day of the month: 28°C, a scorcher! We guessed that half of Edinburgh would be out on Portobello beach, or take a short trip to one of the other local beaches. So, not places we wanted to go to.

Instead, we cycled the other way – inland, along the Water of Leith up to the Pentland Hills and to Harlaw Reservoir.

17 km out, half way round the loch, picnic lunch, and the boys went into the cold water for a swim …

… while I tried to sketch the scene:

Harlaw loch is a lovely place, and even though it was busy, it wasn’t jam packed, because the car park to the loch only had limited spaces.

For the way down we took a slightly different and shorter way and reached home after 15 km. We unpacked and re-packed our bags and headed out again for our first barbeque of the year in the Links! It was one of my wish list items to do once we are allowed to again. It’s been allowed for quite a while now, but never worked out before. Today we couldn’t miss it, it was a perfect, warm summer day and sizzled sausages and some kebabs were well earned after our trip.

First barbeque of the year – oh, so yummy!

A wonderful summer holiday day. And perfectly well timed too, as just now (ten o’clock) the rain started. It’s pouring down heavily. Tomorrow everything is back to normal.

Happy Holidays. Covid-19 Staycation.

Coo Too

Or Coo Two?

Another Highland Coo, AK, 29/07/20, acrylic on canvas, 13cmx18cm

This is my second attempt to paint a highland cow. A very enjoyable exercise, and a good result too. I am happy with some things, and know a couple of other things to improve for the next time.

It is very likely, that I produce another one or two of them, before I move on to another subject.

The Destination – Another Finished Cardigan

I already posted about my knitting project, the second Covid-19 cardigan, the one I started mid May, to completely unravel it four weeks later when I figured out it was too small.

Well, it is finished!

‘Pure Comfort Cardigan’ – yes indeed, soft, cosy, comfi, I am very happy with the result!

There is a tinge of red in the grey on the photo. That’s just our bright red and orange duvet covers reflecting in the bright afternoon sun.
The wool is lovely merino wool from a yarn designer in England, the colour is called soot, showing variations of grey, from light grey to almost black, with every skein of wool in a slightly different shading. It is wonderfully soft and was a joy to knit, the cardigan is warm and cosy to wear; the name of the pattern is very fitting “pure comfort cardigan”.

Now, that this one is finished, I can go straight to the next project: A cardigan again, this time in petrol. A straight forward simple cardigan, the pattern is called ‘basic’, and that is what it is. Instead of going to a highstreet shop and buying a basic v-neck jumper or a cardigan, I make my own. Who would have thought?

Fruit Picking

We did a 13 km cycle ride this late morning, out of town towards Cramond and then Queensferry. Our destination: Craigies Farm, a fruit picking farm and farm shop. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, friends raved about it years ago – pre-school, I think – but it has always been out of reach without public transport connection. But on bikes it is no problem at all, as I discovered a couple of weeks ago. And when another friend said she had eaten half her bodyweight in freshly picked cherries, I started planning a visit. Yesterday I booked a picking slot – due to Coronavirus restrictions slots are only bookable online in advance – and today just before noon we got out there. We had a yummy meaty lunch from their food truck, a little walk through the woods, and then went for the berries.

Berry Feast!

Black currants, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries, oh so delicious! We had to hold back not to pick and buy more than we could cycle home and eat tonight or store until tomorrow.

The cherries are for just eating. Robert and I are quite happy, that Ingo isn’t too keen on cherries (he ate one, only one single one), so we can have them all. The black currants as well as the raspberries are being turned into sorbets as I write my blog post. And the strawberries are half for eating tonight, and the other half will be turned into ice cream or sorbet too.

Happy Holiday, Coronavirus induced staycations, sweetened up with a berry feast!

The Seven Hills

We finished our Seven Hills of Edinburgh tour today! After walking four of them on Tuesday (Castle Rock, Calton Hill, Corstorphine Hill and Craiglockhart Hill – all the Cs in a 23 km loop) we did the second loop with the remaining three today – Braids Hill, Blackford Hill, Arthur’s Seat – another 17 km.

We had to sit out the rain this morning and only left after 2pm. When we reached the Braid Hills it was still rather cloudy, but at least without the sun I could take a nice panoramic photo, which has Craiglockhart and Corstorphine Hills to the left and left-centre, Castle Rock and Calton Hill in the city centre slightly to the right of the centre of the photo, and Arthur’s seat at the right. Blackford Hill is not visible, it is slightly lower than the slope right in front of us.

Panoramic photo with five of the hills

We then crossed through the braids valley to climb up Blackford Hill, which we reached in the bright sun! Picture postcard weather for the view across to Arthur’s Seat.

Arthur’s Seat – as usual, my horizon is not horizontal.

Right, now off to the last one …

It was getting rather warm, and we all slowed down a bit. But needs must, we wanted to climb Arthur’s Seat! We crossed the south side and finally got to the steps leading up the hill at three minutes to six. My boys were crazy enough to run up – taking only ten minutes – while I cursed myself for wearing jeans and a cardi on what turned out a sunny and hot afternoon! But I power-walked straight up in 14 minutes, which wasn’t too bad since I carried the water & jackets rucksack.

Look back and across to Braids & Blackford Hill

And then came the best bit: the run down! Jeans and cardi or not, I love running down the lower part of the trail as much as my boy does. So I handed the hiking rucksack over to my man, and my boy and I pelted down the last few hundred meters. Such fun!!

Well, 18:45 we were back at the steps were we started, and only needed to finish the loop back home. I was glad to have pizza in the fridge – planned as our dinner for tomorrow – which saved me cooking tonight. We all were rather hungry on arrival!

Four hills the day before yesterday, 23 km; three hills today, another 17 km. Two nice tours, two great days out. Best parts: Corstorphine Hill and Arthur’s Seat.

17 km loop – and a GPS jump from Blackford Hill to the castle …

And tomorrow we go cycling – to a fruit farm to pick raspberries, strawberries, cherries, and maybe blackcurrants.

Happy Holidays, even in Covid times.

Out for a Walk

The seven hills of Edinburgh, dotted around the town – I thought, it was a good idea to climb them all this summer, since we most likely won’t go away.

It would be rather ambitious to do them all in one go (though there was a Seven Hills of Edinburgh running race a couple of years ago …), but we could do three or four in one day. Or not?

We have been to four of them before, but usually just one per tour. So I sat down to roughly plan out a route and off we were this morning at half past nine. Castle Rock came first, and we reached the Castle Esplanade just past ten. From there straight on to Calton Hill, only half an hour later.

The next part took us a bit longer. We crossed the New Town, passed by Dean Village, stopped for a photo at the Landform in the garden of the Gallery of Modern Art, and kept walking out to and up Corstorphine Hill. But we found lots of wild raspberries in the park, and both my boys were on wild swings. Around half past one a big hunger in our tummy let us head down from the hilltop to Saughton Park and the newly opened Garden Bistro in the Rose Gardens. Oh, the steak burger with chips tasted so so good! And it gave is enough energy to tackle hill number four as well: Craiglockhart Hill. We got there at around half past four, and made it finally back home by six.

Both Corstorphine Hill and the east part of Craiglockhart Hill were new to us. Lovely places and certainly worth going back another time.

All in all 23.5km. Four out of seven hills. Five and a half hours of walking time. Great day out! But tomorrow we will be very lazy. It’s supposed to rain, never mind.

Coronavirus staycation! Happy Holidays.

Mid July – Holiday Time

Usually over the first two weeks of July we go on holidays. And my Facebook memory reminded me of our trips – to the Outer Hebrides last year, Mittenwald the year before, Wales & Northumberland three years ago, and so on.
But this year nothing is as usual!
My boy was supposed to go on a one week Scouts trip of a lifetime, to the original Scouts camp in Kandersteg, Switzerland. That would have been last week, and obviously didn’t happen.
We had then planned to cycle the Caledonian Way, from Campbeltown on Kintyre to Inverness, which due to the current situation – of only this week’s eased travel ban – is impossible with restricted campsites, ferries routes cancelled and public facilities like shops, restaurants and toilets not open as usual.
I tried my best to find an alternative route, but after several days of checking campsites, calculating distances, re-arranging routes, etc. nothing really worked out, and I finally gave up this afternoon: we are going to stay at home.
My man will finish up a couple of things at work tomorrow, and then takes off the coming two weeks. We will do some hiking tours as well as some cycling tours from our doorstep, maybe with a wild camping night away.

Covid holidays. I will keep you posted.