n.b. I had heard of this young pup’s arrival a week ago and today I saw it surface a few times. Despite the snow in the wind, a woman had taken her coat off to sit on it on the grass embankment and watch the seal diving. It is remarkable how long these creatures can sustain a dive while fishing. It would then pop up its head and have a look around while recharging its lungs. Goodness knows what it finds underwater here, possibly the hire bikes from the city’s first less than secure public cycle scheme of a few years back.
There have been precious few boats on The Broads for over a year and so the river has become a safe navigation for this seal and who knows how many others. It must have found somewhere to rest up too, seals like lolling around on a beach or mudflat for long periods between diving for fish.
Things will change soon, as holidays within the UK become the thing for a while, so these waters will become quite busy, then where will this seal go?Similarly, I wonder how the otters further upstream, even closer to the city centre, will fare.
Out into the broad expanses of Norfolk north of the city where the land is flat and the rivers are still young, we went. There vast swathes of open land devoid of hedge rows to protect the lanes from cold cross winds.
There are lines of ancient oak trees along some field boundaries, some showing signs of age, some of weakness, but the majority grey, stolid witnesses to the continuing changes in farming practise.
In one field machines were planting potatoes, in another despite the strong wind, spraying was taking place.
Where there was protection from the cold wind, the Sun was able to penetrate the February air and make it pleasantly warm.
At a stop for drinks, I queued behind behind a rotund man who spent nearly £50 on tobacco. Behind me a man had come in to buy lottery tickets. Outside at the chip shop a queue was forming along the village street. Friday for fish and chips?
On the way back a farm has reclaimed an area that had chainlink fencing and large areas of concrete aprons and old runways from the time of the Second World War. The nearby church of St Peter’s, with its round flint tower, had a sign stating that it was a site of Commonwealth War Graves. Here lie the remains of air crew from that conflict.
Passing through Norwich city centre on my way home, I was not surprised to see so many people walking in the bright February sunshine, but I was a little taken aback to see that several people seemed to be walking in groups, rather than alone, or in couples. There seems to have been a relaxation of the physical distancing rules all of a sudden. Have I missed something about Covid-19 not being able to infect people in this city?
I am increasingly aware of people being affected for significant periods of time by the symptoms of Long Covid. I am also aware of an attitude that some people who now having been vaccinated losing interest in what is going on with pandemic. Meanwhile teachers and school staff, police, prison officers and supermarket workers are being asked to work on without being repaid for their year-long public service by early vaccinations.
Teaching staff in the UK have suffered a death rate from Covid-19 of around a quarter more than the general population and still The Great Clown wants to make them wait by age for vaccination. Bad mouthing the teaching unions as he goes. If children’s education is so important, why has he not working with the workers’ unions to get a decent plan? Dead teachers can’t teach.
I went out to deliver a loaf of bread and spent time talking with my friend who was taking a few moments outside her front door taking in the bizarre combination of fresh air and tobacco smoke. She smokes quite theatrically, turning her head to the side when exhaling the toxic gases she has moments before inhaled quite deeply. I haven’t spoken to a smoker for many months and it was a novelty to observe her process.
A recent study from Kings College London showed how vulnerable smokers are to covid-19. As I may have mentioned before, I think that banning tobacco sales would have been a good move when the pandemic measures were implemented. If saving the NHS was such a big deal, why not remove one of the main sources of ill-health in the country (in the world!) from the market?
“It is my only pleasure” you might hear a nicotine addict say. Will they say that again when dying of pneumonia after having a lung removed and their loved ones witnessing their ghastly and untimely demise?
Rain started to fall as we stood about four metres apart. Here and there tiny white balls of ice fell that appeared too white and too light to be hailstones. They melted on touching the ground. Snow balls? The Inuit have a word for this form of precipitation I suspect.
As I cycled back home through Chapelfield Gardens two police officers were talking to a homeless man. One was writing into her notebook. The man’s worldly possessions, including a sleeping bag rolled up and tied with string, were lying under a bush. I hope the officers were able to direct him toward some support. They will have plenty of information to tap into. The question will be whether he wants any help they can offer.
The first lockdown illuminated the size of the street homeless population. It is a growing problem as jobs are cut and incomes fall due to the economic impacts of the pandemic and Brexit.
Goldfinches litter the air with their excited song. The days are a little lighter, despite the cloud cover.
n.b. Dark days indeed. Read this article published online by The Guardian today to try and get a grip on what the hospital teams have to deal with…clapping for them is an irrelevance. This is a disaster.
n.b. Intellectual property rights and patents are all very well, but as with HIV, not worth the paper they are written on if used to hold a gun to the heads of the poor, or inhibit production of effective vaccines for Covid-19.