30 November 2021

No end to the Pandemic yet!

As the year closes and we await the coming of Christmas the world still is in the grip of the Covid 19 pandemic with more alarming deviants being discovered and causing concern. The incidence rate in Germany is increasing and with the change in Government not yet happening each Federal Land seems to be doing something different to control the situation. What I find alarming is the number of antivaxxers there are. Do they not realise that the world has eradicated certain diseases because of vaccination? Polio and Rubella to name just two. I am sure we could eradicate Covid too if we could just get the whole world vaccinated.

Serving in the Army one was vaccinated for almost everything as a matter of course and in the days, when I was part of the Strategic Reserve Force to go at a moment’s notice anywhere in the world, we were regularly additionally vaccinated for almost every thing imaginable to keep us safe. Consequently, when I did sail off around the world, I made sure I got all my vaccinations, Yellow Fever, Cholera, Tetanus, Polio, etc up to date and additionally got vaccinated for Hepatitis.  Prophylactic medicines for Malaria were also part of my onboard medicines. 

When my GP offered me the third Covid vaccine I immediately accepted, even though six months since the last vaccine had not yet been reached. I have had no side effects at any time. So, I feel relatively safe, but will not take unnecessary risks. I still get all my groceries delivered, but when I do go out, I wear an FFP2 mask in the shops and Malls. I have also discovered that in the cold weather wearing a mask outside stops the nose from running and getting cold!

So far, touch wood, during two years of this pandemic I have not had one cold or bout of sinusitis, which is a usual event for me in the winter. This is due I am sure to social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing in public spaces.

So, my advice is, get vaccinated and get boosted. Stay safe.

21 September 2021

A 75 Year Old Codger

 I woke the other day to the realisation that I had become a 75 year old codger! How the hell did that happen? In my heart I still feel the beat of a 12 year old out for a life of adventure and excitement. Yet my body says wake up, you are over weight, have an artificial knee, arthritic finger and toe joints and a number of other minor ailments, we don't do adventure and excitement anymore. Rubbish I reply, you do as you're told. Sadly sometimes my body wins as I don't fold up the way I used to.

The heroes of my 12 year old self were, Captain James Cook navigator and explorer (7 Nov 1728-14 Feb 1779), John Hanning Speke Indian Army Officer explorer and the first European to reach Lake Victoria (4 May 1827-15 Sep 1864), Richard Burton Indian Army Officer and explorer (19 Mar 1821-20 October 1890), Alexander MacKenzie Scottish explorer (1764-1820) and Albert Schweitzer doctor and African missionary (14 Jan 1875-4 Sep 196

At 15 I wanted  to become an African Missionary, since Albert Schweitzer was still doing it, whereas all my other heroes were not only deceased, but the World had been discovered, so it seemed the only way to have this life of adventure. My biology and religious affairs teacher of the school I was then attending, was most impressed and agreed to help me follow this path. Sadly two major events then occurred in my life which led me down a different path. The first was yet another move and change of school, but perhaps more importantly I discovered girls and a celibate life did not appeal to me after all.

I joined the Army, following in my father's and my explorer heroes footsteps. This was a decision I never regretted and the rest is history as they say. 

I have been fortunate in that I too stood on the shores of Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile and fished big Nile Perch out of the river so was at least close to where Speke and Burton had been. I have canoed down a river in Canada, maybe not the one Alexander MacKenzie canoed down, but at least in the same country. I have followed in the wake of Captain Cook, indeed in the Pacific I navigated with a chart where the last survey was by Lt James Cook! 

During the covid pandemic lockdown I treated myself to some big boys toys, so the 12 year old heart was kept sane for a time. But we now have the urge to travel again.

I can say that it's been one hell of a ride so far and my 12 year old self still is out for the adventurous life. Being a grandfather means one gets to relive parts of the journey so far. Watching grandchildren discover the world and sharing their love of life and adventure is itself a great reward and very exciting.

My Canadian Camino brother and sister Dan and Pat have offered to take my on a canoe tour of the Canadian wilderness and my sailing brother Brec in the USA has promised to sail with me up the Hudson river. So my life is full and has promise of adventure and excitement to come. So an old codger I am, but I have no complaints and look forward to the rest of my life with the same sense of adventure as my 12 year old self did. Ultreia et Suseia!

6 September 2021

A Mini Adventure in September

 I don't know about you, but we Bears are getting fed up of this pandemic and the reduced freedom to travel at will. We were fortunate enough to have a super summer holiday on the island of Borkum in July with Vincent and the rest of our Worms family, but that was it! 

We badgered our BBF to plan something to get us out of the house for at least a couple of days. Now he has been thinking a lot about cycle adventures he could have. He says he fancies cycling down the Rhine and Elbe Rivers. Staying in B&Bs each night makes the trip expensive and so he thought that camping along the way was the way to go. Staying in B&Bs when the weather is bad. Part of his problem though, is that he is a gadget maniac, loves and uses them all, (iWatch; iPhone; iPad; iPod; hearing aid)but they need power at the end of each day. In a B&B charging is not a problem, but on a campsite? We have heard stories where campers charge phones and leave them in the toilets, not something he was willing to do. We have all the kit so we needed to get out there and see how it goes. To this end our BBF planned a trip of three or four days staying at three campsites marked on a cycle map.

Here at the top of the picture you can see our first intended destination. Each leg of this adventure was to be around 50kms.

Our second destination by a lake near Düren. He thought we should stay here two nights as there was a nice interesting circuit of just over 40kms we could take on the second day.

This the third site chosen off the map was to be the last before returning home!

We had a trial pack and so now all we needed was good weather. On the Friday 3 September the ridge of high pressure arrived so we could set off after lunch, as the first destination was not so far away. However, Alan had ordered another gadget a mini air pump to blow up his mattress and to suck the air out when packing it up. Alexa informed us at breakfast that it was to be delivered that day so we waited and waited.

There are generally three delivery times for Amazon depending we believe on which logistic depot the item is dispatched from. 11:00; 15:00 or 17:00 hrs. Pot luck decides when. It arrived at 15:00 hrs, but needed charging up, so we left it behind and set off on our adventure without it.

We all throughly enjoyed being on the road again out in the wonderful fresh air and sunshine.

Now we should mention that our BBF decided at the outset NOT to book or phone the campsites. He felt that this would tend to be the way one travelled down the Rhine. Making a booking meant one was forced to go the distance to get there and did not allow for the spontaneity of going off the beaten track.

The ride to our first campsite in Rosendahl went well and without any problems. The campsite was easily found, though initially the entrance was not and we ended up cycling right round it.

The campsite is hidden in a wood and consists mainly of caravans parked permanently. It had a bit of run down feel to it, but we were offered a site with access to power and close enough to the ablutions to please our BBF. In no time at all we had erected our tent and made ourselves at home.

Meals was now the next problem as the campsite had none and Alan did not intend on cooking meals though he did have the makings of coffee for the mornings. So once we had set up, checked in and had our isotonic drink which the campsite could provide, Alan set off alone, leaving us Bears to guard our tent.
He told us later that he had to ride into Wassenberg, where there seemed to be some sort of festival going on as the place was crowded and all the restaurants  were full. Market stalls were set up and live music was being played. He eventually found a seat in an Italian Pizza Parlour and had lasagne with a glass of Lambrusco. By the time it came to return it was dark and he had not programmed his iPhone to navigate back to us! Consequently he missed the way and got disorientated! (He is never lost! He says!) But return he did.

The night proved to be unsettling and a little noisy. Campers talking loudly and teenagers wandering constantly around was one of the main causes the other was that the Lasagne and Lambrusco lay heavily in Alan's stomach. Cramp, despite all the magnesium Alan takes, was the other reason. Getting in and out of the sleeping bag was not as easy as it used to be he found. Old bones don't fold up as easy as they used to! But sleep we did, even if fitfully, finally waking at 07:30 hrs.

The morning was damp and chilly, though we had all been warm as toast in the night. The inside of the tent was wet with condensation, whereas the outside was dry, though the grass and bike were wet from the morning dew. Coffee was called for after our BBF had had his wash and brush up. He had the makings of real coffee which was prepared in a French Press Mug. 

Alan wiped the condensation off the inside of the tent with a tea towel, so it was dry when we packed it up. The Bike Power pack had been plugged in and charged during the night,. The iPhone and iWatch had been charged up using an extra power pack and now this was plugged in to charge up again. Sadly this takes some time and it was only charged up to 82% by the time we set off around 09:00 hrs.

Along the route we found a Baker's Cafe where we were able to have breakfast. Our route now took us along the Rur River valley. Not to be confused with the Ruhr Valley which is a larger and different river.

There was a fair bit of water in the river and at various places we came to rapids and overfalls, which impressed us. 

The day started cool and foggy, but by lunchtime the sun came up and burned off the fog. 

In Jülich we discovered an old Citadel which was worth a quick look. 

The route beside the river was nice and sometimes we were able to stop and enjoy the view and the sound of rushing water. However, often the route followed major roads, admittedly on a cycle track, but the traffic noise spoilt it. 

It was nice and warm and sunny when we got to our next camping site! This was beside a swimming lake and looked really nice. When we asked for a tent site we were informed that they had none, nor could they tell us where one might be! Alan had an isotonic drink beside the lake and applied his grey matter on what to do!  A B&B it would have to be. Booking.com had not been used for so long now that we couldn’t use the App as our clot of a BBF had forgotten the password! The App Bett und Bike (bed and bike) came to the rescue with a bed in Düren, so off we set having programmed the GPS anew! 

Sadly there was no breakfast in this place that seemed to cater to the Building Trade with itinerant building labourers staying. It had a kitchen where they clearly prepared their own meals.

Having had one campsite disappointment we did not want another so Alan checked and yes the next place didn’t have space for tents either! Alan’s aim had been to gather tent and campsite experience and not B&B, so as there were no campsites that accepted tents within a 60km radius, he said we would go directly home! 

Having showered and changed he left us behind to go and find somewhere to eat! In the Centre of Düren right on the edge of the market square he found an Israeli restaurant called Nish Nush! Alan chose the Royal Jerusalem Street Style Dish which consited of Shaawarma, Kebab, Hummus, Amba, Tahini, Mama-Style Fries, Salad, Mixed Pickles and Zhug which was spicy.

It was good eating and can be highly recommended. He washed it down with an isotonic drink and had a double espresso to finish! Since he had learnt from his mistake he had programmed the return route and returned to us without a problem before it got dark! 

We all slept really well, but were rudely awoken by a neighbour’s very loud music alarm at 06:24 hrs! He apparently turned it off and rolled over again. We on the other hand were wide awake! So we got up packed our stuff together and set off around 08:00 hrs. Though the sun was up the morning was cool, so a jacket was called for!

A little way along the route home which now followed a main road we came across a junction with a Burgerking next to a petrol station on our side of the road and a McDonalds on the other side! Sadly Burgerking did not open on a Sunday before nine, so we crossed over to McDonalds which was open! 

We took our time over breakfast using the wifi to check mail and the route we would take! 

The sun had warmed the Earth when we next set off again so there was no need for a jacket anymore. 

When we were not on cycle paths alongside the main road the route took us on minor farm roads and tracks through the country side. 

Sometimes we had to share the road with cars which we never enjoy! 

But it was a lovely Sunday and we enjoyed the ride home! 

Cuckoo Spit ( Froghopper insect) found on the side of the road! 

Places to stop and rest were few and far between, but when we found one we stopped for a rest and to drink, though our BBF with his water bladder on his back was able to drink and cycle! 

Home was arrived in due course earlier than planned, but with some lesson learned for bigger and more ambitious adventures in the future!
Buen Camino! 


13 December 2020

Christmas News 2020

Christmas News 2020

Lost Christmas Cheer

Since I last wrote a Blog or email little to no adventure has taken place in my or the Bears lives! We are avoiding unnecessary contact und thus we hope the Covid-19 pandemic. So far so good! Our various guardian angels are working overtime to keep us safe and I wondered who, other than God, cares for our guardian angels? My Bears had the answer. (See above)

The second wave situation here in Germany as I write is getting serious if not dramatic. I find it sad that there are so many people who think it nothing more than a serious bought of flu. The long term repercussions are only slowly becoming apparent too. As I write they have registered more than 28000 new cases and almost 500 deaths due to Corona in the last 24 hours! And the tendency is up and not down. I know of two good friends that got infected, were quite poorly for awhile, but seem to have recovered somewhat now. As they are 90 and over 80 I pray that they do not have any lasting effects as others do. Well it seems that the German government are moving to declaring a general lockdown on Wednesday 15 December! I had intended to avoid all contact from Monday anyway in an effort to be able to spend at least two separate days of the Christmas period, one with each of my patchwork families!

I still bake cakes each Sunday and then distribute pieces to my neighbours and my patchwork family. My sourdough bread baking has become one of my passions and I am getting better with it all the time. Now that I slice up the loaves and freeze them as soon as they cool off, I manage to eat every last crumb for I only take out a slice at a time. Consequently I now need only to bake two loaves once a month.

The Bears and I wish you all, despite the current Covid situation, a blessed Christmas and a new year filled with good health and happiness.

Stay negative!


7 October 2020

A hospital visit in time of COVID-19!

Two weeks ago now our BBF had a show his face visit to our GP and he just mentioned in passing that his gallbladder had been giving him grief! Dr Aretz did an ultrasound scan and said it was time to remove it. Now you have to know that Dr Richard Aretz is also a sailor and has his own boat, so we get on well. He now rang a friend who just happened to be the Chief Surgeon in a hospital who was also a sailor! After a little discussion Dr Maciey agreed to see Alan that day! So off we went to the St Irmgadis Hospital in Süchteln, some 30 mins away by car. 

Alan was seen immediately and as sailors do they talked about sailing. After another ultrasound scan Dr Maciey confirmed that the gallbladder should be removed! How soon was the next question and our BBF answered as soon as you like would tomorrow be ok! Covid-19 reared it’s head now and Dr Maciey said a test had first to be done and so arrangements were made to have this and the pre-op check up and chat to be done on Friday 2 October! 

One is obliged to wear a mask and to disinfect one’s hands when entering the hospital and all staff moving about also wear masks! On 2 October Alan arrived early to first report to reception and get all the Medical Insurance stuff out of the way. Then after a bit of a wait Alan was seen by a surgeon called Mohammed, a Kurd from Iraq who discussed the detail and risks of the operation to remove the gallbladder. He took blood and took the throat and nose swabs for the Covid-19 test! Papers were signed and then Alan was passed over to a Polish anaesthetist who’s name we can’t spell who  discussed that side of the OP. Thereafter we were free to go.  

The OP was scheduled for Tuesday 7 October. Sigrid, Vincent’s grandma kindly agreed to take us to the hospital! Alan was told to ring up at 15:30hrs on Monday to find out the time to be in the hospital! He entered the details into his diary on the iPhone so that he would get reminded. On the day and time in question the clot was so busy ironing and watching TV that he forgot and didn’t make the call until 16:05hrs!! Now there was no answer, the secretarial staff had all gone home! After getting the number off the hospital’s internet webpage he rang the hospital switch board, who after a bit of faffing about connected him with the ward in which we would lie! Come at 07:00hrs, no better arrive at 06:45hrs! Memories of Army life flooded back where each person in the chain of command would subtract a minimum of 15mins from the true time to be on parade meaning you were woken at Sparrow fart for an 08:00hrs parade! 

Sigrid bless her didn’t bat an eye when told that we needed to leave at 06:15hrs, she promptly said she’d pick us up at 06:00hrs! Had she served too we wondered! 

We were all keyed up if not quite with bright eyes and bushy tails on the morning in question! Our gallant BBF promptly forgot something when he was about to get in the car so rushed back to get it. He gave Sigrid a half loaf of his recently baked loaf of sourdough bread. It would be a shame to waste it while he was three days away in hospital! The humans both wore masks for the journey, though we do think it illegal for drivers to wear masks while driving because the police want to catch your smile on the speed camera.
Now Autumn is here it was our first early morning out in the dark and rain. The journey was uneventful, though both humans expressed surprise at the level of traffic out and about so early. 

It was as we thought a hurry up and wait morning. We were shown to a bed in a room with a patient who would be discharged later that morning! We never found out the name of the nice young man who was leaving! He had been operated on his left leg and had to wear a brace on it as if it was broken! The two humans discussed football as the nameless patient was a keen almost professional fan of Borussia Mönchengladbach! He then kindly gave Alan a set of earphones with which to watch and hear TV! 

Our human now had to don hospital attire. A cold gown which ties at the back, a pair of net mesh underpants, a green hair covering and a cool pair of white stockings with a hole in each toe! A pretty nurse then came and shaved Alan’s tummy! She also put an armband round his right wrist telling him it was an “all inclusive “ armband! A first for us for we have never traveled all inclusive! 

Shortly after 10:00hrs they came for Alan and wheeled him off to the operating theatre. Outside his room he was, as all other staff moving about, required to wear a mask! Up in a lift and down a short corridor we stopped by a large serving hatch. It was our human that was to be served through the hatch! The bed was hoisted up to its full height and a conveyor belt came out and slid him through the hatch and onto the operating table! Here he was met by a nice friendly chap, we think was called Dr Winter! He was wheeled into a room to wait some more! 

Lying flat on his back looking up at the ceiling a pretty face with dark eyes and large spectacles filled his vision and promptly pulled down his mask and with the most beautiful of smiles said I’m Dr Henn and shall be putting you to sleep! 

Shortly thereafter she disappeared and he was wheeled into the operating theatre where they spread out his arms and promptly stuck needles into him. He said that it felt a little like being placed into a medieval torture chamber. The lovely Dr Henn then said he would begin to feel drowsy and that Alan should think of something nice. He replied that he would like to wake up again beside her in bed! A little nonplussed she said it would cost extra. As the oxygen and other gasses mask was placed gently over his mouth and nose Dr Henn gently stroked his face until he was well under. Now after the event Alan realises how much he has missed the TLC of physical contact with another human! 

Our BBF eventually woke up in the recovery room where Dr Winter and a Dr Achmed from Aleppo watched over one. Even in his slightly befuddled and dreamy self Alan discussed Syria and how much he liked it and how heart broken he was at the destruction! 

With Dr Winter he discussed caravanning as Dr Winter had just bought an English one and was well into travels with his van. Sadly he had noted that the increase in motor homes  had greatly reduced the space for campers and that the Covid-19 pandemic had made matters worse! 

Alan was later collected and taken back to his Ward. On the way the Nurse Thorsten said that if he wanted they could put him in a room with an en-suite bathroom as the old room only had a wash basin! Needless to say Alan thanked him and said yes please. He then had to explain to Thorsten where the key to the safe was kept. Alan had given it to Jamie to look after and it was wrapped into his Pilgrim neckachief! 

Once the move had been completed and Thorsten had helped Alan put on his pyjamas our BBF dozed the afternoon away as the effects of the anaesthetic gradually diminished. Someone said at some stage that there would be nothing to eat today but that the next day would be soup only. Then a Dr must have taken pity on him as Thorsten came with a cup of peppermint tea, (something Alan always associates with being old or ill in Germany) and one slice of white bread, butter and cheese. 

Much to our pleasure we held a Whatsapp video call with our Worms Family, and then we slept some more! Shortly after our video call Thorsten came and hooked Alan up to a drip. This was a pain killer he was told. As it was only a small drip it was removed later in the evening! 

We watched TV now until about 22:00hrs when we turned the lights out and went to sleep! 
 Our second day in hospital was uneventful! The morning circus of nurses and doctors coming in and taking, blood, temperature etc started at around 07:30hrs followed by a light breakfast! 

Alan had a bit of a strip down flannel wash and then sat and read, while we Bears attempted to write it all down. Petra and Vincent had a short video call to make sure all was well, which was doubly nice. Alan used SMS to chat to the other half of his patchwork family during the day. Christopher has cocked up his iPhone by changing the password which he did not write down, or tell his mum what it was, and after three attempts can’t get in anymore! So no more whatsapp chats with him! Moni has not yet taken her iPhone into use and still uses a steam driven mobile! Hence SMS is the method of maintaining contact! 

Our human when he got bored with reading, paced up and down the room like a caged lion. He told us it was an attempt at keeping a modicum of fitness. He did this a few times during the day. He complained though that his stomach muscles ached and moving around in bed was not so easy anymore and he felt like he was now an ancient geriatric! We kept quite and didn’t remind him that he is already a 74 year old geriatric, as he might have thrown us teddies in the corner and sulked! 

The staff are kindness and patience itself. They came a  number of times during the day to ensure our human had all he needed. He was allowed lunch, which included soup, but also rice and meatballs! 

So the forewarned soup only diet was a myth of someone’s imagination! A lady came later in the afternoon to ask what Alan wanted to eat the next day and this confirmed that he would be eating what they call a light diet but included solid food and coffee for breakfast! Coffee though can only be had during the day, Germans just insist on pepper mint tea for old folks in the evening. Alan remarked to us, go with the flow don’t buck the system! 

In the afternoon after watching a cooking program we slept some until the evening meal was served. Then we watched TV for the rest of the evening. The events in America are alarming. If the whole of the administration come down with COVID-19 who is going to run the country! 

Just before turning the lights out we watch the Lanz talk show on ZDF and they had an American woman supporter of the Republican Party and Donald Trump who was floundering, but attempting to justify Trump and hi policies. She really floundered when she tried to explain that Trump saying that he could just kiss and grab women by their pussy,  was just locker room talk and meant nothing. The other all German panel members looked incredulously. We couldn’t take her poor attempt at argument and switched the TV off and went sleep! 

We were rudely awoken at 06:30hrs when a nurse came in with a new patient to occupy the next bed to ours. A Herr Zimmermann. Our human rolled over and did his best to ignore them. By 07:30hrs it was all over trying to feign sleep as the No 2 Surgeon came on his rounds. He explained that the muscle ache our human was feeling was normal. They after all pumped up his tummy with gas which stretched it wide. Some patients complained of shoulder ache as well. Alan replied that he had neck ache too, which he had attributed to the hard pillows! All normal the surgeon replied. He also confirmed that we would be released tomorrow morning after breakfast, providing the liver values were ok. More blood would be taken today to test that it was. Certain values were a little high, though he didn’t say which and departed before we could ask! 

After the Drs circus had left Herr Zimmermann was wheeled away for his op and we were served breakfast!

Ibuprofen was given to help with the pain and to reduce inflammation, four times a day! 

After our breakfast our human had the three S’s as one would say in the Army! The plasters all had to be replaced after that and so he was able to get dressed and escaped outside for an hours walk round the town. 

When he returned Herr Zimmermann was back from his op, but clearly befuddled still, so we left him alone. Mind you the nurses didn’t, they came to test his blood sugar etc. He is a little hard of hearing, so all discussion takes place in a high volume setting. 

Lunch was served! 

And eaten! 

Now it is a question of reading and waiting until tomorrow when we hope to be let out! 

We were rudely awoken at 06:20hrs on our last day by a cheery nurse wanting to measure our blood pressure and to take our temperature. Then came the first Dr, Mohammed, who took the sexy white stockings off of Alan and Herr Zimmermann amongst other things that Drs do to patients so early in the morning. He mentioned that Alan’s liver values were all ok and that we could leave after breakfast! 

At 07:30hrs Dr Querling came and did his rounds and confirmed that we could leave the hospital today. Alan’s GP would take the stitches out and he was not to do any heavy lifting for at least 10 days, but yes he is allowed to ride his bike! 

Sigrid was early and kindly gave our BBF a lovely bunch of flowers to welcome him home and wish him a speedy recovery! 

In his letter box he found a surprise gift from Anna and Oliver! 

Life is good when you have such good friends!  Stay negative folks. 
Jamie and Hanna Bear! 

20 August 2020

The New Normal

 So how have you been since last we spoke? Here in Mönchengladbach I have swung like a sinus curve from extreme laziness and slovenliness to high industriousness and an attempt at cleanliness. The major reason for these swings is that I hate house work and would rather be doing something exciting and adventurous than vacuuming and dusting. My decluttering is still going on and I am making slow progress. Some days are more emotionally draining than others, because I find old love letters, some written by my father and others by a number of my ex'es! Then I need to go for a walk or bike ride to clear my head.

My new normal is that I no longer go shopping regularly. Those that know me well also know that I am a shopaholic. I love it and before this pandemic would go once a week to food shop and every other day window shopping in the centre of town. Thanks to the Internet it is no longer necessary. I now get my food and household stuff delivered every week. There are at least two good supermarket firms that deliver here. REWE and PICNIC. I have used the former and like their products, but they are more expensive than the latter, so I have stayed with PICNIC. Yesterday they sent me an email which said that they have delivered 10 times a total of 175 kilos of Victuals and that I have saved 20 hours of shopping time.

The Big Boys Toys are delivered by DHL, so I don't go without there either. Because I was not going out spending unnecessary amounts of money in coffee shops or on spontaneous purchases, I had cash available for toys. It started back in March with me using my loyalty points from a large supermarket to order a pair of nice bluetooth earphones. This led me to buy an iPod so that I could listen to even more music on my new earphones! I discovered too that the iPod Touch was as good as a Smart Phone as I could receive emails on it as well as listen to the BBC Radio. Then I decided I needed an Apple Watch! This led me to buy a new iPhone 11 Pro Max. I needed new hearing aids and have bought two really smart ones with which I can listen to the music on my iPhone, answer the telephone and listen to the TV. When listening to music or the radio I can adjust the volume or turn it off by using the little digital crown on my Apple Watch! The hearing aids Phonak Audeo M30-R have made my life more fun.  I can go anywhere and still listen to the radio or my music. When watching TV I can now go into the kitchen to do stuff and still listen to the dialogue and not miss anything. I have a need of a new computer and am thinking of now getting a Mac Book Pro, but I needed new spectacles, which I have now ordered and these are expensive so the Mac Book will have to wait a bit. Since I no longer use my car for shopping I hardly seem to use it, that I have thought of selling it, but I shall not jump to quick conclusions here as there are occasions when a motor car is useful. Especially as I shall not be getting on a train any time soon. 

I bake weekly at least a cake which I distribute to a couple of my neighbours and my patchwork family, and every so often a sourdough loaf. I am getting quite good at the bread baking now. I started a notebook in which I record my baking recipes, especially as I am experimenting with the types of flour I use. When my neighbour had her 102nd Birthday I baked her a cake. She was delighted and since then on occasions in return for my regular Sunday cake, drops off a bottle of white wine on my doorstep.

I have met with  my good friend George/Jürgen for a coffee, on a number of occasions maintaining social distance of course. On another occasion my Camino Brother Uwe happened to be in MG for a Mega March and so we met one evening for an ice. He has a sister that sews and embroiders, so I was presented with a nice Camino facemask! I have no idea how such meetings will take place once the colder weather comes since I shall not go inside a Cafe or Restaurant! 

I have been out cycling with my two grandchildren on occasions. With Christopher we combined it with Geocaching which was fun. With Vincent we combined it with a picnic.

My Anglican Church community has continued to have Zoom Services and we even started actual Services once a month. We no longer meet in the Church Hall for coffee and tea after, but go into the park opposite the Church and stand apart for a chat and a bite of my cake, baked as usual.

I have also had a Zoom chat with Brec and Sandy in Connecticut on the one day when Vodafone had a complete shut down in Mönchengladbach! I had to scrabble around until I found a friend that had a Telekom connection which was working. It was a bit hectic for awhile, but so good to see and chat with them.

I also had a less hectic Zoom Chat with Glenn and Gwen in Canada who live just outside Toronto, on a day when my Internet connection was working.

I now have cut my own hair three times in all. From the front it looks OK, it's just the back which is iffy!

2020 looks like being the first year since 1983 that I have not been sailing. Since 2009 I have been without a boat to call my own, but I have somehow always managed to get out on the water in some form of sailing vessel. When the pandemic is over I shall attempt to get the Baltic Four together for a sail on RAGNA R. 

The Baltic Four some time ago in the 80s.

There will be no annual get together of the Nienburg Crew either which is sad. We have met each year since 1992!

At the beginning of the year I introduced a Vice Commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club to member of the German equivalent, Trans-Ocean at the Düsseldorf BOOT and we discussed cooperation between the clubs and the possibility of the OCC having a stand at the BOOT 21. BOOT 21 will take place, but I have had to inform them all that I can no longer participate unless there is a safe vaccine for me! I shall help them if they decide to have a stand from my socially distanced laptop, but more I cannot do.

In another lifetime and when I was super fit and much much younger, I had a serious bout of viral pneumonia and it was touch and go then. After REHAB it still took over three months for me to regain the full capacity of my lungs! Consequently I am doubly cautious now.

It pains me to see the many people around the world who seem to deny the seriousness of COVID-19 or the need to wear masks in public places. One or two I know personally justify their actions by saying they are lateral thinkers, implying that they are the only ones with the right answer. COVID-19 is still so new and the medical and scientific community are still learning about how it is transmitted and what the true consequences are. Younger people are being adversely affected, even if they only have a mild form and recover they are showing long term medical problems and complications. 

I remarked in my last blog that what the world needed now was strong leadership for only if all countries pull together will we overcome this pandemic. I pray that the upcoming US election will bring a favourable result and that America can then take up its proper leadership role again.

My Eye Doctor when I was having my check up said to me that once upon a time all Psychiatric Hospitals used to be painted white. Now there is only one left and it is on Pennsylvania Avenue!!

Think about it, in the meantime stay negative!

14 April 2020

COVID 19 and What the World Needs Now!

Have you been in lockdown since 14th March like me? How are you coping? Are you beginning to get cabin fever? Or bored and looking for things to do?

What I can say is that being confined to my fourth floor flat is very much like sailing alone around the world. One is alone on board, and after essential work of setting sails, navigating, and doing minor repairs one is at liberty to sit and watch the world go by. Reading was the main activity for me. Now after essential work around the flat, cleaning and tidying up,  instead of reading I play computer games or chat on Social Media. I have regular contact to friends and family, not via radio schedules, but by Facetime or WhatsApp. The real major difference is that there is no motion (unless I've had one too many) and my bunk is not lying on its ear!

Petra as I indicated in my last blog is working hard to maintain her Patchwork Family and is very strict with us OAPs. She has her hands full with working from Home  and having to care for Vincent as the Kindergartens are closed. But she thinks ahead and orders for us online when she can, or receives the orders from the local Bio Bauer. (Farmer). Now though, we have felt safe enough to go and collect from her, saving just a little of her time.  As we have all been in Quarantine for the last four weeks, we were allowed to have a walk together on Easter Monday, wearing facemasks made by Sigrid and maintaining social distances!

I personally don't have a problem with being shut in my flat, as long as I can get out on my bike once per day I can cope. I've started to declutter my life. Going through old love letters and photos, takes time though and sometimes my mind will only cope with so much nostalgia. The size of the Paper Bin also determines how much I can shred at any one time. It is not as much as I would like, so I often have to wait a week to 10 days before I can resume. It means my flat is a bit untidy as I do not put it all away again, it sits there in various piles waiting for me to begin again with the trip down memory lane.

My main thoughts though are to the future and here I am fearful. I am fearful for the whole World, for it requires not a country by country solution, but a world solution. It is no good that China is on top of the problem now, when the USA and other countries are not. The only way we are going to get to defeat this pandemic is if we work together, sharing knowledge and resources.

Instead each country is competing for the limited resources of facemasks and other PPE (Personal Protection Equipment).

What the World needs now is a dynamic selfless leader to coordinate the effort to defeat the virus, and we don't have one. The Buffoon in the White House is not it. Boris and his BREXIT mentality is also not it, though perhaps if he changed his attitude he could apply his mind to it, but I doubt he will. Ursula von der Leyen is not it either, which is sad, nor is Angela Merkel, though she could be if she put her mind to it. It needs a super power to lead the way.

We do not need to look too far back in history to find examples of how it should be done.
When the EBOLA Virus spread out of the Guinea borders in 2014 President Obama activated the Emergency Operations Centre at the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta. The CDC was immediately deployed to West Africa to coordinate a response that included vector tracing, testing, education, logistics and communication.

President Obama worked with the UN and the World Health Organisation and rerouted all travellers heading from Africa to the USA to specific airports that were equipped to handle mass testing. In the USA more than 6500 people were trained through mock outbreaks of a pandemic, before a single case arrived on their shores.

Three months after Obama instigated this response a man travelled from West Africa to Dallas and slipped through the testing net. He was, however, immediately detected and isolated, but died a week later. The two nurses that cared for him contracted the disease, but thankfully recovered. All the protocols worked and Ebola was  contained.

Now before anyone knew about COVID 19 even in China, Trump disbanded the pandemic response team that Obama had put in place. He cut funding to the CDC and he cut the US contribution to the World Health Organisation. Trump fired the one person on the National Security Council in charge of stopping the spread of infectious diseases!

When the outbreak started in China, Trump assumed it was China's problem and sent no help of any kind. They were in a trade war, weren't they, so why should the egotist and isolationist (make America great again) help them.

I could go on listing the man's bluffing and blustering, but need not as the virus moves faster and now America and in particular New York is harder hit than anywhere else in the World.

The Spanish Flu pandemic lasted two full years from January 1918 to December 1920. It came more or less in three waves and finally died out in the summer of 1919.  More or less the same methods were tried then to control the spread, though not as successfully as now I would suggest. They didn't have the medicines to cope then, nor did they have a vaccine, just like now. 500 Million people were affected and 50 Million died world wide! This time we are or seem to be slowing its spread, but we have a long way to go before we can return to normal life. Consequently I feel the public need to be warned to dig in and not ease the lockdown or travel restrictions too soon. Countries will ease up because of economic pressures and history will show which countries were more successful than others at controlling the spread.

Stay safe, "for it's a jungle out there"!