Sunday Memories – Denmark – Fredericia, Odense, Copenhagen (and the hippy bit!)

Last year, David and l spent our summer holiday driving through Northern Europe. I’ve always wanted to visit the northern countries so we toured through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and back through the Netherlands.

At the time, I didn’t get around to blogging about the 2-week trip so thought I’d write about elements of the journey now starting with Denmark.

Fredericia

This was our first stop in Denmark. We arrived at our hotel and was shown to a minimalist room and although clean not particularly comfortable so ventured out almost immediately.

Upon taking advice from the friendly locals we decided to go for a long walk around a little of the Jutland Coast breathing in fresh air after our arduous drive on the autobahn. It was invigorating and I immediately fell in love with Denmark.

The ambience is relaxing and although it was raining I enjoyed the coastal walk. There are curious outdoor art installations (below) and it was great to leave the car and go for a brisk walk.

We strolled around an area called Kongens Bastion (The Kings Bastion) which the Swedes stormed during 1657 and was rebuilt between 1660 and 1675 and now stands as a good example of a 17th century fortress area.

As we explored the area and nosed around the little Danish town and residential architecture, the soft rain became harder and harder.

On the way back to the hotel we became somewhat discombobulated about the route due to the now torrential rain. Going around in circles up and down the Danish streets of similar housing we became drenched and unfortunately so did the map which we couldn’t read as it disintegrated!

We popped into the local brew house as a reprieve from the odious monotonous rain and was shocked to see people propping up the bar drinking and smoking! This is surprising bearing in mind how environmentally friendly the Danish are. We weren’t expecting a smoky atmosphere. That said, the place was dry, warm, friendly, lively and they had a decent selection of craft beer which is the main thing!

One lady chatted to us and seemed interested to learn about our long trip. We told her we were touring northern Europe and she seemed quite surprised and impressed. I guess not everyone wants to drive through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and back via the Netherlands but although long it is worthwhile.

Odense

I don’t usually bother to name the hotel we stayed in but this was glorious and called First Hotel Grand. The hotel is an elegant 19th century building and offers pure luxury with the town conveniently nearby. The reception couldn’t find our booking initially and to apologise gave us an upgrade. The bedroom was sumptuous and as I had developed a dreadful cold the luxury was welcomed.

Odense is the hometown of Hans Christian Andersen (fairy tales, plays, biographies, travel accounts, etc.). The little iconic house was supposedly where Hans was born in 1908 and is now a museum. As we wandered around the pretty cobbled streets, we saw plenty of statues and art which was inspired by the stories of Hans.

The city centre is reserved for pedestrians with an abundance of bars, restaurants, shops lining the streets. Of course, you can see a diverse selection of historical features such as the Cathedral (Domkirken), museums, local market area, park and quant typical Danish housing. We enjoyed our visit and to be quite honest, would like to return.

Copenhagen

A beautiful city where half the traffic is on two wheels. All ages use bikes here as in most other parts of Northern Europe. If you have young children you use a carriage bike. Incredible!

There is plenty to do and see in this city. We went to The National Gallery (Denmark’s largest art museum), Bakken Deer Park, Tivoli Gardens (a weird looking amusement park in the centre).

We took a bus (hop on, hop off) tour and stopped to view The Little Mermaid one of Copenhagen’s most iconic tourist attractions. The sculpture was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale and unveiled on 23 August 1913 by Danish Brewer Carl Jacobsen.

We spent some time visiting the Botanical Garden which is located in the centre of Copenhagen. There is an extensive complex of glasshouses dating from 1874. The garden contains 13,000 species and is in several sections including 600 Danish plants, conifer area and rhododendron garden. Certainly, all of the above are well worth viewing.

We also enjoyed a boat trip (The Grand Tour from Nyhavn) navigating the city’s famous canals to learn about the Danish capital including Christianshavn, Copenhagen Opera House, The Little Mermaid Statue and Amalienborg Palace.

I loved hanging out at Copenhagen’s Nyhaven, or “New Harbor” which is steeped in heritage with colourful houses, bars and restaurants. Hans Christian Andersen lived here and it is a lovely place to take a stroll or sit with a beer and people watch.

Christiania – The hippy bit…

The most memorable visit though was to the hippy area of Christiania. During 1971, this place was an uninhibited military area and taken over by squatters and converted to a ‘free city’; a self-governing neighbourhood run by their own laws independent of the government.

As you wander around this curious community, you see the idiosyncratic buildings and restored shacks with chilled out residents who installed their own bars, shops, art galleries, meditation facilities and music venues and are openly smoking and selling marijuana from permanent stands.

However, they have ruled against cars, stealing and hard drugs.
Oh, and no photography as we found out.

Denmark
As you may have read on a previous post I read ‘The Year of Living Danishly’ by Helen Russell and I’m fascinated with how the Danish live their lives. It is incredible to see how many people use bikes in the city centre with special lanes catering specifically from bicycle traffic.

Copenhagen is said to be one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world and has been praised for its green economy.

By 2025, 75% of trips will be made on foot, bike or public transport. Priorities include becoming carbon neutral, sustainable drainage systems, recycling rainwater, green roofs and waste management systems are just a few of their targets.

When you visit this city, it is extraordinary how they are implementing these environmental factors with historical and modern architecture (solar panels), attractive public grounds with engaging human interaction activity derived from careful planning and associated infrastructure.

A wonderful place to visit, I highly recommend Denmark and I hope to return soon.

Is this the end of Lockdown or the beginning of the end?

Monday

This evening I’ve finally managed to see my two grown up children! Hooray.

Of course, it isn’t the end of lockdown, is it? But at least we can finally enjoy seeing family. We met in the local park where my son lives and had a good old natter. Fantastic.

We discussed whether we should be ending lockdown which was a resounding YES? Also, should schools be back? Yes. Although, we all felt lockdown should have started earlier. The football matches and Cheltenham shouldn’t have happened just before lockdown either.

We also questioned whether we can trust the figures relating to deaths. Again any comparison is ambiguous as the UK now count care homes and I’ve heard people are recording Covid-19 on certificates whether it was the cause of death or not. In fact, data is now being questioned…

The Spanish government has stopped explicitly listing how many deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, switching to a contentious measure of how many people have died in the past seven days. Nor is it updating the overall tally of deaths as frequently or completely as before.

Flawed data casts cloud over Spain’s lockdown strategy To come out and say there are zero deaths when deaths are taking place can create a lot of misunderstanding Rafael Bengoa, WHO director.. https://www.ft.com/content/77eb7a13-cd26-41dd-9642-616708b43673

Overall, I feel we’ve done ok. Ventilators and hospital beds were rapidly arranged and isn’t it extraordinary how quickly things can be organised when they need to be!

Also, if we can do stuff such as build hospitals, rapidly, why can’t we always do things quickly instead of politicians taking so long to make decisions? People of all political persuasions are saying it would be good if we could speed up medical needs instead of waiting years for decisions to be made.

Another topic discussed was eating locally sourced food. The youngsters all love to cook and bake. During the lockdown, they’ve started to go to the local fruit and veg shop which is basically their local farm shop, in town. They hope to continue this. My daughter said she’d cooked sweet potato curry and my son likes to cook a mushroom risotto. Recently, I cooked a bean tomato stew with roasted vegetables. So looks like we will continue to eat less meat.

Tuesday

Today we explored another area of Bewl Water. It saves trailing down to the coast and is only a few minutes in the car. Another day, another walk. My goodness me the scenery is stunning. Of course, the glorious sunshine helps.

During this outing, I noticed youngsters are not following social distancing rules although over 30 age groups are. Suppose you think you will live forever when you are young.

One thing about lockdown is rediscovering the local countryside. I’ve even downloaded an app called Alltrail because I intend to go on some hikes.

Wednesday

I met up with my friend for a local park walk. It was lovely to catch up. She has her own housekeeping business and work has dropped during lockdown. However, she is managing to have a few bits of work filtering through so hopefully things will pick up soon.

The economy is a worry and I’m hoping there won’t be too many jobs lost because of this virus. People are going through dreadful times whilst trying to home school children and worry about their livelihoods.

A family bbq has been arranged for this weekend. It was decided bringing own plates and cutlery is unnecessary due to hygienic rules I’ve adhered to.

The weather is deteriorating at the weekend so if Covid-19 doesn’t get us pneumonia will.

Toodle Pip

P.S. I’m persevering with the new Block Editor on WordPress. I’m getting there but it has been frustrating. How are you doing?

Sunday Memories – The Summerhouse, Books, Painting Furniture, Walking and Working (again)

It has been another quiet week although looks like we will be returning to some sort of normality soon as the UK lockdown is gradually lifting.

To be honest, I can’t wait. I’ve now developed habits around sanitising, not touching my face and constantly washing hands. I have stopped washing up my food shopping apart from a few bits such as milk.

I’ve also stopped reading and listening about Covid-19 news as I’m heartily bored with it. This may appear apathetic but I’m sick of all the media moaning (and by my Facebook feed whatever people’s politics are, I’m not the only one). The media seem to be like a stuck record.

Maintenance of Garden Bench

Anyway, I’ve done some furniture maintenance and painted the garden bench. Apparently, according to hubby, this is not upcycling but maintenance.

Whatever it is, it was hard work! I started by scrubbing the bench to clear the muck off and then after many hours, varnished to protect the wood which did rather smell.  This took most of the day and was left to dry for painting the next day.

During this time my daughter turned up and I provided a cup of tea and we sat and chatted in the sunshine. Lovely. I’ve missed seeing people. I was telling a neighbour, I feel as if I’m becoming too used to being on my own. It’s not good is it?

I’m looking forward to seeing both offspring (and partners) tomorrow in a local park near my son’s abode as we can now meet up from the 1st June.

The next day I painted the bench, left it to dry and then painted another coat. Used a whole pot of paint. I was surprised how exacting I found it. I’ve a new respect for people who do this for a living. Pleased with the result and it is great for my morning coffee break too.

Bewl Water

David and I decided we couldn’t face the crowds at the coastal areas (and lack of loos) so did another walk around Bewl Water. We parked in the same place but ventured through woodland around the opposite way around the reservoir. It is such a beautiful spot. People are now sailing, fishing or just going for a stroll. I’ve noticed an increase in family bike rides as well. Maybe this will encourage people to walk and cycle in the future.

We stopped and read our books (see below for which ones) so it was a pleasant, relaxing outing which I feel will be repeated often. Strange how it has taken a pandemic for people, including myself, to enjoy the countryside again. Although to be fair, the weather helps.

The Summer House and Books

I often spend the afternoons in my summerhouse devouring a good book. If there is one thing that has been worth the financial investment, it is the summerhouse. The space has become a place I can read, entertain friends and family, a storage area and somewhere different to go away from the house. Also, as our English weather can be rather precarious it is a great place to sit in and not feel chilly as you would normally. I can recommend one if you’ve some outside space.

The two books I’ve read recently are The Complete Short Stories, Volume Two by JG Ballard and Dead Gone by Luca Veste.

Ballard’s stories are an extraordinary, diverse selection of literary tales using his surreal, futuristic imagination. I’ve been reading this volume for what seems to be forever and it was a long haul. I gave it 3* out of 5 on Goodreads. See the size of it below!

Luca Veste’s is a fun phycological thriller and an easy read particularly in comparison with the above. All about someone taking students for experiments and then killing them! The interaction between characters is intriguing as the story unfolds. It is gruesome so be prepared. 4*

Business

Now things are returning to a ‘new normal’, I’ve slowly started working on my business again and sold a few things. I’m selling vintage/preloved clothes and jewellery online. This has kept me busy and I’m enjoying the work. Lots of photography and relisting old stock. Hopefully, the work will build up during the next few months and I can go out for more stock.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe.

Andrea 😊  

Sunday Memories – Shopping, Gardening, Favourite Podcasts, TV, Websites and a Publication…


The last week has been quiet with lots of activity around the home. Podcasts have been listened to, television dramas enjoyed, blog posts read along with trying to finish J G Ballard Short Stories paperback, food/gardening shop procured, baked bread, a much-needed glorious trip to Bewl Water for a wander and of course all the usual household chores.

Every day seems the same so you aren’t always sure what day it is. I haven’t seen anyone but had a friend phone call and Zoom session with adult children and other halves.

My routine has developed into chores in the morning which includes cleaning, business and writing. The afternoon often comprises of a local walk through woodland and reading in my summerhouse.

Shopping and a Covid-19 Test
This week I decided as my anxiety levels have decreased, I would brave a couple of shopping trips. One being food and the other garden related.

I’ve received a request to do a Covid-19 test, for research purposes which, although I’m sure I haven’t got it, agreed to participate in the hope it helps eradicate the disease.

So, I got up around 6.30am and realised after processing the swab and securely placing the swab in the container, I couldn’t open the bag. After much struggle, I had to drag hubby out of his slumber, to help. We eventually worked out there is a hidden slit in the side of the bag and managed to open it. What a struggle! The test was placed in my fridge ready for the booked courier to collect after 9 am.

By the time I arrived at our local Tesco’s I was feeling quite panicked. I scurried around with my extensive list, feeling frantic as I felt people behind were waiting to be where I am. Trust me, I’m a fast shopper but even I find the one-way system traumatic. Upon arriving at the till, I was told off for not standing on the blue spot (silly me) and this made me even more apprehensive.

However, I did thank the lady for all her hard work because I realise, she is in quite a challenging situation. When I returned home, I told hubby, he could go next week. Still, I got my face cream, moisturiser and hair spray. Yay.

To be honest, I was feeling more confident and was quite surprised how exacting I found the experience.


Gardening
That afternoon, I drove to our local garden centre. I picked up a few plants (petunias, pinks, geraniums) and went towards the house plant section. This area is also where you pay. I was making my way through, past the queue, and was curtly told ‘The queue is here.’ So, I weakly apologised and join the long socially distanced queue knowing full well I hadn’t finished my shopping. I felt exasperated but realised the tricky situation, paid for my goods and went home without the houseplants. Ha! First world problems and the joys of living in a socially distanced world. Our lives for the future!

Anyway, I’ve decided not to go too mad with the bedding plants this year as shopping needs to be minimal in this lockdown climate. Also, the garden is looking pretty at the moment with all the Rhododendrons out, and I am feeling very lucky to have space to enjoy, especially now.

A Podcast, A Subscribed Publication and Television
I particularly enjoyed the Minimalists’ podcasts on Politics this week. The Minimalists discussed the outrage and divisiveness of the current political climate and how we can avoid becoming caught up in the disarray and turmoil created by tribalism and partisan politics. I find their podcasts interesting and feel they are probably under subscribed because people assume they just talk about decluttering and tidying up.

We often sit down after dinner and watch a drama or documentary. During the last few weeks, we’ve enjoyed Devs, State of Happiness and Killing Eve. Devs has been my favourite though with the futuristic storyline, stunning cinematography and diverse soundtrack.

It is about a tech billionaire called Forest who is convinced that our lives are predetermined and questions our free will and responsibility for our actions. A fascinating watch and something different.

Another discovery is the website The Conversation, which is a network of news written by academics and researchers. It is fundamentally a giant newsroom with academics and researchers providing informed content that engages with current affairs.

I’ve recently treated myself to a subscription which is for the publication ‘The Week’. This is a publication which supplies a balanced news opinion about everything that matters globally.

I like to read political news from all perspectives and The Week briefs you well by documenting news from many political sources.


A trip out
We also went for a walk near and around Bewl Water. Although the area is local to me, unfortunately, I haven’t visited due to the fact I’m a bit mean about paying the £4 car parking.

Anyway, we parked in a nearby lane and wandered to the reservoir and discovered a quiet boating area, and walked around part of the reservoir and then sat and read our books and admired the view before going home. I’ll write more in another blog because the place is beautiful and deserves a write-up. In fact, I’d forgotten what a lovely place I’ve got so near to where I live.

Thanks for reading, following and supporting my blog. Much appreciated.

Mentioned:

https://www.bewlwater.co.uk/

The Minimalists Podcast

https://theconversation.com/devs-explaining-the-philosophy-at-the-centre-of-alex-garlands-mind-bending-tv-show-137507

https://theconversation.com/uk

https://www.theweek.co

Sunday Memories – Walking and Chat

 

Occasionally, we go for a drive in the car for our walk. Usually, only once every few weeks and I get excited about a little outing. It is amazing how thrilling a small outing is now which I suppose doesn’t do us any harm. Anyway, the outings below are rare and over the past few weeks

Barden Lake

Recently, we wandered around Barden Lake in Tonbridge. A glorious spot and an easy walk. There were a few people but the paths are wide for the 2 m rule so you feel quite safe. Who finds it weird how we walk in the road now to avoid other walkers? You walk along the pavement and wonder who is going to go on the road first. Must be confusing to children who are always told not to do this!

Anyway, it was great to see all the birds flying around. We saw mallards, geese, kingfishers and lots of dog walkers and families escaping the cabin fever. Is it me, are all the birds singing louder now? Probably me! I’ve heard people blame the lack of traffic but I’m sure they are louder and braver. A robin came up to me recently, and I thought I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened before.

Haysden Lake

We decided to walk around the above thirty-acre lake and soon found this challenging because the area is fairly wild in places and without paths. However, we enjoyed the ramble around the whole area.

About two-thirds of the lake area forms a nature reserve providing places for fishermen and yachting.

We started the walk by passing the Leigh Barrier which is used to prevent Tonbridge from being flooded. It is high up so provides excellent views of the surrounding area too.

Beachy Head

Now the UK lockdown restrictions have been eased this week, I’ve seen a couple of people and briefly visited the south coast.

The weather wasn’t great but dry. We drove to Beachy Head near Eastbourne. The cliff is the highest in England rising 162 metres (531ft) above sea level. You have a magnificent view of the east coast and is quite uplifting at this challenging time. (See top pic.)

Funnily enough, the name has nothing to do with a beach but is derived from the French words Beauchef (13th Century) and Beaucheif (14th Century) meaning “beautiful head(land)” which of course, it is.

Luckily, in 1929, Eastbourne bought the 4,000 acres of land for £100,000 and saved the area from development and is part of the South Downs National Park. David and I thoroughly enjoyed our wind blown walk and even the gales were invigorating. We did eat our sandwich in the car though. Certainly not picnic weather but it is great to enjoy an outing and glorious environment.

The cliffs are eroding every year so it is vitally important not to walk too close to the edge. The white cliffs are quite bright because of the erosion revealing the chalk.

The lighthouse is 43 metres high and electrified in 1920 and automated in 1983. The wild and natural environment is truly wonderful and worth a trip. We walked all around the headland from a nearby car park so we got our exercise in.

Source:

https://www.beachyhead.org/visiting-beachy-head/

Do we actually quite like LOCKDOWN? Plus another Memory List…

I’ve recently got into the lockdown habit of buying a Sunday newspaper, The Sunday Times. Journalist Rod Liddle was commenting about the fact we rather like this lockdown existence (above). 

I’ve mentioned all the negative aspects of the lockdown a couple of posts ago and don’t wish to appear flippant about this dreadful time but there is a positive a flip side.

Not having to see people you don’t really like is always good for an introvert (above). Personally, I like being with people and have been told I’m chatty but don’t always want to talk. Maybe that’s why I love going to the pub. You can chat to the locals or sit quietly on your own.

Not having to hug too is ok and I think this will be a permanent change. The kissing, on both cheeks. Really? People have become friendly but that is because they don’t have to talk now, just smile in the ‘yes, I’m walking round you, because of social distancing’ kind of way.

The changes this crisis will provoke are extraordinary. The main one, will be travel and commuting. I’m not sure people will commute to work like they used to. Now businesses realise employees can work at home, this will become the new normal.

Also, people don’t need to travel for business. They can hold meetings on Zoom and can action projects remotely. Hopefully, this will reduce costs, time and be good for the environment. Who doesn’t miss their two hour commute up to London or wherever? It is not just cost, but time as well rendering a productive work/life balance.

Who wants to be crammed on a bus/tube/train? Why not hop on a bike and wind all the motorists up in your lycra gear? Or we could be northern European, and use bikes as a tool to go about our business in normal attire and not look like a twit. Could we not?

I love to travel but the airports Ugh!!! It starts as you wait for your flight to be called. Mr Muppet sits on a chair with a bag on the next chair so you can’t sit down. Except Mrs I-will-sit-down (me obvs) will march up to said person and say directly whilst pointing to the seat piled up with wifey’s bags, excuse me, can I sit? Always works. Also, why do people queue up for 50 minutes just so they can be one of the first people to sit and wait on the plane?

We can now play spot the plane in the sky too.

The lockdown has given me time to deep clean and decorate, which I probably wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise. Also, it is good to be at one with nature again and actually hear the birds sing. From talking to people who are able to work, most seem to favour working from home and hope it will continue in some format. In fact, reading and listening to views on lockdown, it is apparent many people will view their whole lives differently and make radical changes.

Apparently, 68% of people have quite enjoyed the lockdown as they can slow down and see their children or just do what they want.

What about the children? There has been a post going around social media about two older people chatting. It starts by one remembering the cruelty of the virus, the deaths, the lost jobs, and suffering. The ageing gentleman replies by saying he doesn’t remember the lockdown that way. He was four years old, and just remembers playing in the sunny garden with his brother and seeing mum and dad all the time, laughing and spending time together due to the fact the parents were always around (working from home). This may seem sentimental and yet I do know a mum who posts daily ‘pictures of happiness’ of family life. The child she photos, will remember this time fondly.

(Yes, as a side note, I do realise how hard it can be to have children around 24/7 days a week.)

Maybe one of the issues here is many people have realised they didn’t like their ‘normal life’.

Let’s be honest, nothing much will change immediately because most of us haven’t succumbed to the virus. We will be socially distancing for months to come. So perhaps we should try to be positive?

For me, it will be nice to see family/friends/community again. I miss shopping (call me shallow), my little business, the occasional lunch or dinner out many times a week. Everyone has their own crap to deal with and I’ve certainly had mine. It is time to enjoy life and make the best of things. Isn’t it?

Many permanent changes will occur now and in the future such as home working, cycling/walking to work, using copious amounts of sanitiser, baking bread, and stocking up on food cans and bog rolls!

Makes you think doesn’t it? Do we need to introduce a fresh lifestyle? 


The Good Stuff list:
Key workers
NHS
Quiet roads (managing traffic better?)
Local shopping
Neighbourhood schemes/groups
Remote working/socialising
Online courses/virtual tours
Losing your mobile phone constantly (at home)
Not having to hug/kiss people in an offensively continental   manner
Writing daily on this blog
Free schedule 
People are ‘war time’ friendly
Altruistic attitudes
Time to do stuff – even gardening
New hobbies
New businesses – Thai takeaway
Relax
Read books/newspapers/articles
Podcasts – I’m hooked!
Birdsong (dawn chorus)
Enjoy the countryside (blossom)
Baking Bread/cakes
Local produce 
The weather! (Weird how it has been mostly sunny since this all started.)

Anything else?

 

Thanks for reading. Comments welcome.

Andrea x

Sunday Memories – Dora Maar Tate Modern Exhibition

Oh, life before Covid-19; how wonderful it was. A few weeks after The Shard visit we ventured up to London again to view the above exhibition. My friend had been lucky enough to be given a ‘membership of the Tate’ card which included free viewings and entry to private lounges. Brilliant.

We set off to London and thoroughly enjoyed the photography of Dora Maar. She is remembered for being an accomplished French artist who had a romantic liaison with Pablo Picasso. Maar created surrealist collages and depictions of the Provence with striking black and white photography and paintings.

Her use of mirrors and shadows endeavoured to form her links with intuitions and ideas rather than natural imagery. Marr’s fascinating photomontages reflect a time after the Depression that depicts poverty and society during a fraught political climate.

She seems to optimise the modern woman focusing on portraits, nudes, fashion, society, and even advertising. I loved the investigational aspect of her work. The innovative practices such as montage and collage merging fact and fiction. The work is inspiring and must have been ahead of her time. The inspirational factors seemed to represent life but Marr uses obscure techniques.

The exhibition explored Maar’s long career and in the context of her work, her contemporaries and life. The work included when she concentrated on painting, poetry, religion and philosophy not returning to photography until her 70s.

We really enjoyed the exhibition. It is great to view such disparate, philosophical work which explores the peculiarities of society and life whilst championing the irrational and bizarre.

On a social side, we enjoyed the privileges afforded to members of the Tate Gallery. The spectacular views from the Members’ bar in London are amazing. Having lunch with that view is something I will never forget. I can remember feeling jolly about being able to view some amazing forthcoming exhibitions without being encumbered by any virus. We were naively confident, we could continue to appreciate art for at least, weeks if not months, to come. Hopefully, the membership will be stretched forward to make up for the closure of the Tate.

Have a lovely day everyone.

Thanks for reading and following my blog. It is greatly appreciated. 😊

 

Musings on Health News: Restrictions, Bikes and a Vitamin D Study – Stay Safe, Stay Well

Is it time to free the healthy from restrictions?

I have just read a thought-provoking article on the effect of bad news relating to the Coronavirus. The public is still worried whether the lockdown ends or not. The constant protracted stream of news which focuses on the negative facets makes people, particularly the aging population feel they are at extreme risk. In fact, 60% of the 18-34 age group feels they are at risk rising to nearly 80%, for the 55-75 year old age group.


The article questions whether this is out of perspective?


The main risk group is the older group with pre-existing health conditions and the deaths are mostly in this age group.


Dr. Amitava Banerjee, of University College London suggests the negative focus on the epidemic means we “have lost sight” as the virus causes a moderate illness for many. Of course, in my opinion, there is the problem regarding undiagnosed underlying conditions for both the young and old. He also reminds us that we need to look at the rising rates of domestic violence and mental health problems because of the lockdown.


The Edinburgh University in conjunction with London academics has published a paper advising lifting the lockdown for most whilst protecting the vulnerable thus continuing isolating the individuals and testing their carers.


Good hygiene and isolation for those who need it, is the way forward according to the scientific analysis.


For the non-vulnerable population, coronavirus carries no more risk than a ‘nasty flu’, says Prof Mark Woolhouse, an expert in infectious disease who led the research


It does look like the government will start to lift the lockdown soon. However, I think although this will be imminent, the process will be in phases, so we can return to the previous phrase, if coronavirus figures start to rise again.


It is a shame the media outlets are quite so negative. In my view, we could have done with how many people are recovering and a more positive view of progress. Although, clearly precautions will have to continue until a vaccine is secured or herd immunity.

If the lockdown is wound down, I think much more care needs to be taken on the hygiene side of things. For example, constant wiping of public use tables, hand sanitiser as you enter premises and supermarket equipment wiped down. Simple precautions aren’t actioned enough.

Coronavirus: Boom time for bikes as virus changes lifestyles

Fear of public transport due to the virus, which I use a lot, is a shame but understandable. Apparently, there is a 200% increase in bicycle orders by emergency service workers and this can only increase substantially as lockdown disperses. With large numbers of the public wanting to stop using cars and public transport, people will become similar to large parts of Europe (Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden), and start using bikes, not to irritate car users in their fancy lycra gear and roading hogging, but to just go about their daily business.


I was surprised when I recently visited London, how many bike lanes there are now. We have them in our local area too so we feel it is now perfectly safe to use bicycles. More cycling infrastructure is still needed though and hopefully, some pop-up lanes will materialise soon. They may have to now.


It is amazing how the Coronavirus is bringing about so many changes, isn’t it? We read about how cycle shops have gone from selling 20-30 bikes per week, to 50 bikes a day. Extraordinary.


David and I, are seriously thinking about this too. We favour getting some fold up bikes to travel about the local areas and also take with us on days out. What life changes are you undertaking, (that you didn’t think you would until the lockdown)?

Vitamin D Study

An interesting study referred to by Dr John Campbell recently, relating to Vitamin D, looked at 780 people with confirmed cases of infection of Sars-CoV-2 in Indonesia.

This is a good sample size. The study used age, sex, co-mobility, Vitamin D status and disease outcome (mortality). The study concluded the death risk factors; male, increasing age, pre-existing condition, below normal Vitamin D serum level.


Most of the above we already know but it is interesting to see the ‘below normal’ vitamin D levels in the outcome. They did some statistical analysis allowing for age, sex and Covid-19 mortality and found you are more likely to pass away with low Vitamin D levels! Surprised?

Having accounted for the risk factors, people with low Vitamin D were 10 x more likely to die. This is interesting because it is related to COVID-19 specifically.


It has come to my attention that it helps with colds, flu and general heath so, for the first time, I’ve been taking daily doses of Vitamin D throughout the winter and have just finished for the season. Now the sun is shining, I will try to enjoy some sun periodically, in short time frames.

Incidentally, I found taking Vitamin D improves mood too!

 

Sources:

Photos of Odense, Denmark and Copenhagen. (My own photos from a trip taken to Northern Europe, June 2019)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52543692

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52564351


Vit D in Indonesia https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c… Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D: An Indonesian Study (26th April) Retrospective cohort study which included two cohorts (active and expired) of 780 cases with laboratory-confirmed infection of SARS-CoV-2 in Indonesia Age, sex, co-morbidity, Vitamin D status, and disease outcome (mortality) were recorded Serum 25(OH) D levels 1. Normal, greater than 30 ng/ml 2. Insufficient, 21-29 ng/ml 3. Deficient, less than 20 ng/ml. This Results Death risk factors, male, increasing age, pre-existing condition, below normal Vitamin D serum level When controlling for age, sex, and comorbidity, Vitamin D status is strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality outcome of cases. When compared to cases with normal Vitamin D status, death was approximately 10.12 times more likely for Vitamin D deficient cases (OR=10.12; p less than 0.001).

 

Sunday Memories – London – The Shard and Bermondsey Gin Distillery

Just a few weeks ago, my friend and I visited the Shard, London and then the Bermondsey Gin Distillery. It was a birthday present from last year. You know, one of those things that you have to book months in advance but is worth the wait. It was such enormous fun and I haven’t blogged about this wonderful day out, so here you go.

The idea of The Shard was to create many diverse areas for the public to experience including magnificent London views. The building is a vertical city, which you see when arriving at London Bridge. It is operating 24 hours a day and includes a hotel, retail area, restaurant, viewing floors and of course, offices. The building finally opened officially on the 5th July 2012 after a 12-year project to build a significant landmark on the London skyline. It seems to have worked and the modernity of the building is striking although I always think it looks unfinished.

“THE VISION FOR THE SHARD WAS TO CREATE AN ARCHITECTURALLY STRIKING VERTICAL CITY INCORPORATING RETAIL, OFFICES, HOTEL, APARTMENTS, RESTAURANTS AND A PUBLIC VIEWING GALLERY.”

The Shard developer and joint owner Irvine Sellar

Around the late 90s, Irvine Sellar, the owner-developer had lunch with the award-winning architect Renzo Piano, who, incidentally informed Sellar about his dislike of tall buildings! However, during the lunch meeting, the architect was sucked in by the energy of London, the railway lines and the swirling beauty of the Thames and turned over his menu and started to draw the future Shard. This is said to look like The Shard today.

Elaine and I visited the viewing galleries, 240 m above street level. It is certainly unlike any other place in the world and the views are truly magnificent. When I first arrived, I feared we wouldn’t be able to see much because of the fog but it cleared intermittently and was great for photography too. The spectacular views improve when you experience the outside floor and feel the wind on your face. You can then look up and see the glass and steel spires poking into the rainy clouds and tapering off into the sky.

The panoramic view of London is even better than expected. We watched the Thames river meandering its way towards the outskirts of London. You are above the snaking London Bridge station railway lines which reminded me of childhood memories of toy train tracks. Across the city, you can see many iconic buildings such as Waterloo Station, Big Ben and the historic Tower of London. Parts of this building go back to William the Conqueror. Then there is the Globe Theatre and a distant London Eye. As we saw all this during an afternoon in January 2020, we had the joyful vista of a darkening London and gentle light show as all the lights came on. The rain seems to add to the excitement as London became dimmer and dimmer and more reflective. Truly wonderful.

Bermondsey Gin Distillery
We walked to the above as it is easier than traipsing through the ever-winding tunnels of the tube stations. We did get a little lost on the way and appeared to go around in circles (thanks Google Maps) but got there in the end! Upon arriving at Bermondsey we visited a bar under the arches area called Ropewalk. I enjoyed the strong cocktail as the train thundered overhead. We arrived at the gin place feeling rather merry.

Oh, those were the days.

Bermondsey in the mid-19th century was a notorious slum and the centre for trade and industry. These days the wharves and warehouses have been turned into bars, restaurants and shops. We were given a chat about the history of gin which was most enlightening. I had no idea that in recent years, the law was challenged and subsequently changed and that is why you see so many new gins now. We were both fascinated by this fact alone which explains the abundance of flavours and brands now. Oh, and we thoroughly enjoyed trying our the Jensen’s Gin too!
What an absolutely fabulous day.

Above is a selfie with London Bridge behind (oh dear)!

Television, Walks and Favourite Podcasts

I’ve decided to stop watching the daily updates and news for a few days as it just creates anxiety. Unfortunately, it is all bad news so I will be reading my news on the BBC page which is comprehensive and useful.


Television (Netflix)
We’ve been watching Jack Whitehall Travels with my Father, whilst drinking beer in the evening and this has been a roaring success. Nothing like having comedy on to cheer you up. Also, it is about the countries they visit, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and fascinating as a travel vlog. Father and son go off together for a ‘gap year’ which Jack didn’t finish in 2009. His father, Michael Whitehall, is an unadventurous well dress gentleman whose obvious distaste of most things Jack related, is hilarious. They journey across South East Asia to partake in some rather curious explorations, mishaps and escapades, and comically demonstrates two diverse perspectives. However, ultimately they find it is a good way to strengthen their father and son bond and proves a successful adventure.



Walks Tuesday
We’ve continued with our country walks. The first one with David (husband), included a trip to the other end of the village where there is a private school and The Old Church. This is set in copious amounts of farmland, orchards and woodland. The sun was shining and we really appreciated being outside. When we arrived at The Old Church we met and chatted with another couple (4 metres plus away) who was discovering all the local walks during this (lockdown) time, having moved to the area of Kent 11 years ago! They are certainly making up for it now. Their walks were derived from some printed maps given to them when they moved in.

Yesterday – Wednesday
I decided to go for a solitary stroll across the local recreation ground and into the woods. I really enjoyed walking for about 50 minutes which got me out of the house. Don’t get me wrong, I have been decluttering, organising and cleaning my home but I’m afraid I will always find ways to escape the four walls into the outside world.
Whilst walking I listened to the Minimalists podcast which is one of those easy to listen to chatty podcasts which is often thought-provoking. To be honest, these days I listen to BBC podcasts but forgot to download for my walk, so I just tried this one which had been downloaded but not listened to…

The Minimalists 197 Successful People

A listener asks ‘How do I find what I’m passionate about and when should I give the passion up?
The basic premise is not what are you are passionate about but what you are enthusiastic about? Everyone knows what they are enthusiastic about. Which friend am I passionate about or which friend am I enthusiastic about? This stops the excitement perspective which doesn’t necessarily translate into a long-term interest. You just seem to know what you are enthusiastic about.

30 Day Challenge
Answer 3 questions for 30 days.
What made me feel enthusiastic today?
What drained me of energy today?
What did I learn about myself today?

Don’t give up until 30 days. You will feel like you’ve got all the juice out of the lemon before 30 days and will see a pattern after the 28th day. Not before.

Favourite Podcasts

5 Live Science Podcast (like the Aussie Dr Karl)

Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Fortunately… with Fi and Jane

The Infinite Monkey Cage

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

The Minimalists


When I got home, I set about making a huge bolognaise sauce full of beef, tomatoes, stock, herbs and masses of vegetables. I plan to make it last several days, so I even added grated carrots. Probably on the second day, I will add chili and beans to turn it into a chili con carnie.

Thursday
I just listened to music and did a home workout. All good fun. I’m enjoying the soulful tunes of Lianne La Havas and Marc O’ Reilly on Spotify, at the moment. During the afternoon we popped to a nearby brewery and bought lots, and I mean lots, of ale for both of us. After that excitement, I read my book (a review will be forthcoming) The Year of Living Danishly and then cooked the dinner (Chili Con Carni).

During the evening we had a lively chat with family which is always fun. I’m glad to know they are well and busy working from home. I’ve recently heard of someone with the virus and am very concerned for her. Hopefully, she will make a quick recovery.

Anyway, I will sign off here. Let me know how you are passing the time?