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This true tale is dedicated to our lovely granddaughters, Gracie, Poppy and Maia.

Speaking to our family via a video link is better than not meeting them in person, but it just isn’t the same, is it? And going anywhere is full of safety concerns. Are the supermarkets going to be busy? With Christmas day looming ever closer, they will, so are home deliveries the answer?

Well, yes and no, as often the supermarkets do not have some of the items we want, and many have an instant sell-by date. We cannot eat all the food in just 24 hours and we know what’s left is likely to be inedible tomorrow or the day after that. So we nicely complain to the supermarket helpers. The staff are very good and refunds are common, but there is a flaw. If they don’t have what we need, we go without.

With so many mixed messages over the last year or so, even those with an ology wouldn’t be able to fully understand what will happen next. Like many others, the covid pandemic has turned all our lives upside down. With the massive increase in oil, petrol and gas prices, most of us are having to dig deeper into our pockets just to keep warm. Simply put, the cost of living is rising faster than our pensions, and the same goes for those with limited incomes.

From January 2021, we constantly saw the rules of yesterday being amended or removed. If those in power didn’t know what to do for the best, what chance did we have? Bit by bit, our confidence has been slowly eroded. It’s a bit like a lift out of control; going up and then crashing down.

Nevertheless, we are old school. Grin and bear it? Not a chance. We decided to fight back. We demanded, nicely, of course, for any jabs that would help us fight that evil Covid bastard. And after we visited the hall of injections - check,wait, jab, and bugger off - our upper arms throbbed for days. But that’s the way it was and is, so why not join me in a walk down memory lane.

Twelve months ago, we made a decision. We would venture out but only to places where we knew social distancing was fully observed. Going to a hotel where the coffee was really good and where social distancing was in force, always gave us a big lift. We didn’t mind the twenty minutes drive each way because it was our way back to normality, whatever that is these days. Luckily for us, a local garden centre also operated along similar lines.

And when we returned home after a visit to one of the above, Sir Percy, our wild pheasant would be waiting; naturally for food. Most days, our magnificent bird would be fed and watered before slowly making his way to the rear of the garden; maybe to digest his grub, because he is rather fat these days. He never arrived every day and so we often wondered whether he had been shot. There are many, hunters around us and when they fire their first shots, the birds panic. It’s sickening, but there is nothing we can do. To end this sad part of our incarceration, Sir Percy brought us a present, or should I say a pheasant. We now have a hen strolling around our manoir; sometimes she brings her friend which is rather special.

During the summer we had a great time, even though we didn’t venture out much. Sitting in the sun always did put new energy into tired bones, especially as my medical condition does everything it can to make me feel the cold. We do love a barbecue and if I say so myself, it’s rare I burnt the meat. We are a perfect team for my wife does all the other bits, the salads, the extras, the drinks, and anything else I’ve forgotten. Sitting under our gazebo to eat and drink in those warm evenings was very relaxing. The problems of Covid were so far away; we dreamed of a holiday somewhere in the sun even though we knew it would be unlikely.

Over the last twelve months, we have counted 19 different species of birds in our garden. But it doesn’t surprise me as my wife makes sure there is enough food for even the hungriest of birds. From hearing Tawny and barn owls to seeing bullfinches, green woodpeckers, nuthatches, partridges, jays and all the other more common birds, our back garden has been an expressway to the Haynes Foodstore.

Covid was killing so many people but there was no way we were giving in because we are in charge of our destiny. My lovely wife plans everything. From food to testing packs she is on the ball.

She suggested we went for a walk where the skies were blue, the few clouds were fluffy white and the sunrays were spearing their way through. I didn’t need a second invitation.

Walking along the pathways of the local downs always gave us a huge lift. We’d park up, take a walk to enjoy the magnificent views, before returning to the car and drinking coffee. One day we saw a skunk. What! Yes, your cynicism is expected, but it was indeed a skunk. And who was the idiot that forgot to take his camera phone with him? Answers on a postcard to Mister Plonker, No Fixed Abode, etc.

Unlike me, my beloved wife doesn’t have massive health problems, but age takes its toll no matter how fit we are. Yet her eyes are like a hawk for she does have a knack of spotting bargains online. Saving how much? I have no idea but she is one hell of a clever shopper.

I’ve always tried to make her smile and our new life in lockdown is built on a concrete base of having fun and laughing over the most trivial of things.

We are two people with simple aims. Firstly, we must survive. Secondly, we must be fed and watered, and thirdly, I must finish this tale as if I didn’t you’d be missing out on a good read, wouldn’t you? Ho! Ho! Ho!

Christmas has always been a special time for us; meeting with our grandchildren is at the top of a must-do list. Their presents are colourfully wrapped and are sitting under our Christmas tree, waiting to be opened on their big day. But with the new covid variant sweeping across England like an unstoppable firestorm, joining our family would be a risk too far.

Thus we will be alone, but safe in our bubble of love and happiness. Video calls are not the same as being able to hug our loved ones, but they are much better than no contact at all.

As long as our reasonably good health continues, we will soldier on.

Love and Laughter is our motto and whilst we have each other all will be well.

My wife and I send our love to everyone we know.

And may the sun always shine in your hearts.

The End? Not quite.

To finish, here is my simple message to nasty Mister Covid.

**** the last word is - off - so I’ll leave you to guess.


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