Diary 2020


New Year’s Eve, and the virus Pat had been suffering from for several weeks started giving her sinusitis. Astonishingly, Sunderland’s Extended Access service was able to offer her an appointment next morning – New Year’s Day – and a course of antibiotics soon did the trick.

Towards the end of the month we spent an afternoon and evening at the Biobank in Newcastle. This involved a number of tests and a couple of scans. The data gleaned is used anonymously for research projects over the UK, and can also give useful feed back to the participants. We’ve taken part for a number of years now.

Then, finally, the wood for the hall floor was delivered. It looked just as good as we had hoped and the fitters were doing a grand job – until they ran out! We were short one box. Of course, there was no more in stock and it had to be ordered from France. In the meantime we had to live with a gap at the bottom of the stairs.


At the Sage we enjoyed one of the best Transatlantic Sessions ever, including Sierra Hull and Tommy Emmanuel among its guests.

The memorial gathering for Aunty Joan was held at the Marriott in Seaburn and attended by almost all the wider family. Joan loved the sea and that was where her children had chosen to scatter her ashes.

Then it was time for this years G&S production from St Andrews Operatic Society – its take on the Mikado. Colin, of course, was a gentleman of Japan. Modern Japan, that is, where the gentleman dress in either Sunderland or Newcastle United strip! It was a novel production, and earned the Society an award from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.

Finally, we were off to Obergurgl. Only one skiing holiday this year, owing to Pat’s illness, but to our favourite resort. The weather was mixed, but good enough for us to really enjoy ourselves. We took a day off in the middle of the week to explore nearby Solden – and treat ourselves to a slap-up lunch! We were very lucky; only one more week’s skiing was allowed before the coronavirus started to spread and the ski resorts closed down.


On 1st March, the day after arriving home, Pat called in to visit her Mam. Little did she know that this would be the last visit for four months.

For Pat’s birthday, after reading some excellent reviews, we had decided to have dinner at a family-run Italian restaurant in Leeds so we booked a room for the night at the Premier Inn right opposite. Salvos – https://salvos.co.uk/ – lived up to expectations. The following morning dawned bright and sunny, Jo bussed over from Bramley, and we all had lunch at the Salvo’s café.

By now the coronavirus had become pretty widespread, so we thought it best to go into self-isolation – a week before the first lockdown was announced. Luckily the local Sainsbury’s, at which we’d been shopping online for some years, had Pat’s birthday on their records and immediately offered us regular delivery slots. So that was us pretty much sorted food- and drink-wise.

Pat did manage to fit in two appointments with the osteopath, thank goodness. What a difference her treatment made to the tendonitis in Pat’s right shoulder. There was hardly any movement in the shoulder before treatment; it had reached the point where it hurt without moving.

Of course, the pandemic put paid to all visits to care homes. Nana Vi would have no more family contact. It had got to the point where she barely acknowledged visitors but it made us feel better to see her.


Lockdown! Daily visits to the allotment but no committee meetings. Distanced family visits in the garden when the rules allowed.


See April.


See April.


With the restrictions being, for the time, lifted, we drove down to Leeds to spend the day at Temple Newsam with the Carricks. It was a place we’d not been to before, and was the perfect place to wander around without having to be on top of others.

Pat was allowed a one hour, outdoor, distanced meeting with her Mam. She was wheeled out in her chair by a carer who sat with her while Pat sat at the other end of a 3-metre table and tried to engage her in some conversation. Her Mam did recognise her and smiled but she soon drifted off.

At the end of the month we finally managed to have the rest of our hall floor fitted. It does look smart.


Colin’s nephew Dougal and his family were spending a week up at Haggerston Castle, so arranged to break their journey in Washington. We met them in Princess Anne Park where the boys enjoyed the playground and our ice lollies while we all did our best to stay socially distanced.

Tom’s parents have a caravan at Winksley Banks, near Ripon. The family spent a couple of nights there and we went down to spend a day outdoors with them. It’s a lovely spot by the river. We enjoyed a good walk and a picnic lunch on the deck.


Another quiet month. We took advantage of the offer of flu jabs and managed to visit the optician too. The last week we managed to go further afield to stay in a self-catering cottage in Ardnamurchan. Our stay is written up here.


Since we’d been spending no money on trips and theatres we had cash to spare and since we were spending so much time in the house with its smart new hall floor, the shabbiness of the living room carpet that we’d inherited from the previous occupants 20 years ago became more obvious. Carpet selected and ordered, date set for fitting, we set about emptying the room. What a lot of furniture we have! We allowed ourselves a week to shift everything that could be shifted. The spare bedroom, the garage and the hall were filled and all that was left to move on the day were the armchairs and sofa. The evening before the fitters were due we had a phone call: one fitter had to go for a covid test next morning so could not keep the appointment. Our hearts sank. This was promising to be the hall floor all over again. With fingers crossed we carried the TV back in and hoped for the best. We were lucky. Only one day late, the fitters came in the afternoon, the rain held off and the carpet went in. Phew!


Coronavirus reached Pat’s mum’s home which had managed to stay infection free all this time. Vi caught it and died on 10th November. Pat was allowed in to see her on the 9th. She was asleep and unresponsive throughout but peaceful and not in pain.

Our very helpful funeral director arranged a funeral for 24th with just immediate family present and an internet link for others. It seemed all wrong for everyone to go right home after a short chat outdoors and not so much as a cup of tea but these are the ties we live in. We hope to have a memorial get-together when circumstances allow.

Early in the year we had discovered a slow leak in the kitchen that was hidden by the sink cabinet. The floor was saturated and we had to remove the vinyl flooring at that end of the kitchen to let it dry out. By now the floor was dry and we were ready to replace the floor covering. This was the year of the floor! Shopping for vinyl flooring in a pandemic proved harder than shopping for carpet. Having eventually found something suitable, we were only mildly surprised to be contacted a week later and told it was out of stock and no longer being manufactured. Our second selection fared better and it was delivered and fitted with a minimum of fuss.


The Carricks having declared it their turn to make the journey, we met at Roker. The weather was kind to us, and we had a nice walk along the seafront, fortified by fish and chips.

Finally, we had a nice Xmas Zoom with both lots of families.