I’ve noticed that the numbers of people still wearing masks has declined in the months since it ceased to be compulsory and instead became a recommendation in England. There are still plenty of them about, moreso in shops and other indoor spaces, but there’s a definite reduction. I still tend to wear mine when indoors (not at home, obviously) but have found myself forgetting more frequently of late. Previously the fact that the majority of the people around me were wearing them would act as a reminder and I’d quicky don my own, but with fewer to be seen it can be easier to forget, especially if I’ve been going in and out of various shops, continually putting my mask on and taking it back off again.
Forgetting my mask Is becoming more common As rules are withdrawn
Even the Women of Steel statues in Sheffield city centre are taking precautions. Well, one of them is at least. The one on the left is showing blatant disregard for social distancing guidelines while not wearing a mask. Perhaps the anti-vaxxer movement has even found a hold in the staue community…
Finding some humour In a public health crisis You have to laugh, eh?
One day post-Covid jab and I can report some side-effects, albeit pretty minor. These came in the form of some soreness and stiffness in the arm where I received the injection, a mild headache, and some general all-over mucscular aches. At first I put these down to the fact that I’ve been for a run yesterday, but they’re not the same as I might expect so more likely a result of the vaccination. These side-effects are pretty common though so I have no concerns and a couple of paracetamols sorted them out.
Today marked the first time I’ve seen my dad in person since last October when our region was designated as Tier-3. The recent lockdown easing measures have so far been minor but do allow for two people to meet outdoors for recreation (the examples given in the official explanation are for a coffee on a bench, or a picnic). Not fancying a coffee or a picnic – it’s March in the UK ferchrissakes! – we decided to go for a walk. It was nice to speak to my dad in person rather than over the phone and we went on a decent walk covering two or three miles.
The route took us over an old railway bridge that I don’t think I’ve crossed in at least thirty years, so I was amazed to see that there was still graffiti dating back to the early 80s on the rusting metal sides of the bridge. Most of this originated during the 1980s miner’s strike and there were still declarations of “Scargill No.1” and “Tories Out“, which took me right back to my teenage years when we would walk past these declarations on a regular basis. I’m going to go back and make some photographs when I get chance. The graffiti is still very vivid, to the extent that I wonder if some diehard advocate of the industial action that took place might be refreshing them with fresh paint occasionally. Whatever the case, I’ll get a better look next time and record them for posterity.
Today’s photo has absolutely nothing to do with the miner’s strike, and was made on another walk a few weeks ago.
Back when we were young Our lives still ahead of us Places in memory
I received my first Covid-19 vaccination today – less than an hour from when I began typing this in fact. I have to say that, despite my earlier reservations at how fast the vaccination programme would roll out here in the UK, it is currently barreling along – I wasn’t expecting my first jab until April at the earliest, so was pleasantly surprised when I received the SMS message from my local health-centre last week. I was originally scheduled to have the injection yesterday lunchtime but, being my usual organised self, I forgot to add it into my Outlook calendar at work and then booked a business meeting in the same slot. Luckily there were still available slots this afternoon.
The process went smoothly, despite there being a queue of people when I arrived. Each person was asked their name and the time of their appointment by two people outside the door to the building, who would then give each person a piece of paper with their details (including the vaccine they would receive – the Astrazeneca jab in my case). There was some minor chaos caused by the wind blowing the little slips of paper that they gave to each person around on the table, but none managed to escape. More minor confusion arose when one of the staff tried to give my slip of paper to the person in the queue in front of me. They looked puzzled as to what had happened – perhaps the fact that we were both bald men wearing face masks didn’t help – but after calling out that the piece of paper was mine a couple of times, all was resolved.
The queue then continued into the medical centre building (not my usual one, but another in the area. Its within walking distance but I drove there, having done one of my C25K runs at lunchtime already, and not fancying further exercise). The queue followed the corridor into the building, myself and my fellow jab’ees staying the alloted 2-metres apart, then winding around a 90-degree corner and to a T-junction where a member of staff stood, directing people into the vaccination rooms as they became free. To the left was a seated waiting area for anyone who had driven to the centre to sit and be observed for 15-minutes after receiving their jab. The man in front of me told the member of staff that he didn’t have time to wait around, and was advised to let the doctor administering his vaccine know.
Shortly afterwards it was my turn to go in and I was directed to the nearest room to where I was waiting. A masked lady in a flower-patterned boiler-suit asked me to sit down, and then realised she had no doses of vaccine left, so went out to fetch more (and to re-fill her bottle of juice). Shortly afterwards she returned with a box filled with vials of vaccine and some syringes. She looked somewhat frazzled, and I can only imagine how tiring it must be to vaccinate what appeared to be a never-ending line of recipients. She mentioned that they had had a couple of “fainters” earlier in the day, which had scaused some delays. After asking me a set of questions about allergic reactions and so forth, presumably with the hope that I wouldn’t join the “fainters” (or worse), I was asked which arm I would prefer to receive the needle. Having no preference one way or the other, she asked me to uncover my left arm and swiftly administered the dose of vaccine. A momentary sharp pressure in the muscle of my arm and it was done. She wrote a time on a sticker and told me to go to the waiting area where I should stay until the 15-minutes had elapsed.
The waiting area had a couple of nurses who gave each person a card containing details of the vaccination they had received, including the batch number, and said to keep it safe as we would require it when we received the second dose of the vaccine. Those people who were not driving were allowed to leave straight away, but otherwise we had to take a seat and wait. The nurses would regularly circle the room checking if people were ok and looking at the times on their labels to compare with the clock on the wall before setting them free into the world once more. Fifteen minutes later I was released without any side-effects (or becoming a “fainter”.
So that’s my first jab complete. In a few weeks time I should have significant resistance to the worst effects of Covid-19 should I catch it, and in around 12-weeks I will receive the follow up injection.
While there are still concerns that some variants of the virus may be more resistant to the existing vaccinations, I am hopeful that this will lead us out of the worst of the restrictions we’ve had here in the UK and that there will be a return to a greater semblance of normality before too long. Fingers crossed!
A jab in my arm Just one out of millions To protect our lives
Well here we are again. The whole country locked down tight for the third time in less than a year (although, to be honest, the second lockdown was less severe and I didn’t really notice any difference). We’re now back to staying indoors except for essential reasons such as shopping for food / medicines; work (if you can’t do so from home); to provide care (or to escape danger); and for exercise no more than once a day (in your local area).
I gues it will mean my photography is limited once more to things at home, or opportunities I have when out for a walk. I’ve just started Couch-to-5k this week, but at this early stage it’s all I can do to keep running and making photos is the last thing on my mind on those outings. Maybe that will change as I become fitter.
I still have a pretty large archive of images that have never been featured on the blog, so I won’t run out of things to post, but I do think that I might run out of new things to post depending on when, where, and how I am able to get out with a camera. I’ll just have to see what happens, I guess.
I like this time of year for photography. Murky weather can make for very atmospheric shots, and pleasant days are blessed with low-angled sunshine. As the lockdown is set to last until mid-February at least (when the government hopes to have the four highest priority groups of people vaccinated), and probably into March, it looks like I will miss out on these conditions for the most part (or will at least need to get more creative and better inspired by my local area). As for my own vaccination, looking at the numbers of people elligible and where I sit in the priority list (basically just above all the fit and healthy young people who aren’t even included), it will probably be just before Christmas 2021 when I get my own jab!
I do hope that this summer will be less restricted than last at least though. Not because I want to sit on busy crowded beaches or visit touristy hotspots, but just to have the freedon to hop in the car and go somewhere nice for the day. I mean, I’d like that freedom any time of the year, but the summer would do for now.
Hope you are all keeping safe and healthy out there.
I’ll leave you with today’s haiku and another photo from Christmas Eve when I was able to go for walks a little further afield.
On my desk I see Two green frogs on a keyboard Are they musical?
This is a view through the window of The Ship Inn. On Shalesmoor. In Sheffield. And, to continue the alliteration, it is shut.
Many pubs in the UK are closed at present because of stricter lockdown measures currently in place. While the rules differ across the four nations that make up the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), here in England pubs must remain closed unless thay are providing takeaway meals.
This situation will remain in place until early December at least, when the current rules will be reviewed. However, given the desire to allow people to see one another at Christmas – something itself fraught with risk – I don’t expect that pubs will re-open to anything approaching normal rules for a long time.
I suspect there will be fewer pubs come the end of this pandemic.
One of two theatres adjacent to one another in Sheffield city centre, the Crucible is the younger of the pair, dating from 1971 (the other, The Lyceum, dates back to the late 19th century). It’s probably most famous for being the host venue for the World Snooker Championship since 1977.
As I write this today, Sheffield (and the rest of South Yorkshire) has been put on notice that we will be moving to the Tier 3 “Very High” level for Covid-19 restrictions at the weekend. While, for the most part, these won’t make much of a difference to what I do (it’s nothing like as restrictive as the full lockdown we had earlier in the year), it does place a restriction on mixing with people outside your immediate family or support-bubble, so it’ll mean I can’t see my dad for the next few weeks (assuming it’s lifted by then).
It also means that I’m not supposed to travel from the Tier 3 area to areas at a lower level of alert. This is disappointing as I have a week’s leave coming up and had planned to make a visit or two to the Peak District National Park. While I can still access part of the park (some of it falls within Sheffield, and South Yorkshire’s borders), it’s a relatively limited area and doesn’t include the places I’d hoped to go to. As I would be travelling in a private vehicle and not interacting with anyone, I’m not sure that there’s a problem or that I would be risking any sort of trouble, but I guess I’ll see what happens before making a decision one way or the other. If not, there are plenty of other places within South Yorkshire that I can visit, and not just the bits within the Peak District. I have a project that I came up with the idea for over a year ago, so maybe I can make a start on making the pictures for that.
Olympus OM-2n, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 & Kodak Ektachrome 100 EPP (expired at some unknown date).
A few weeks ago we drove through the village of Harthill (the same day I made the photos of the person magnet fishing, the house with the pointed roof, and Shireoaks station) and noticed a whole series of “scarecrows” dotted about the place. I call them scarecrows as it seems a reasonable term, although that wasn’t their purpose. They had been installed as part of the village carnival – held virtually for this year – in celebration of key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I didn’t have any film left in the camera or on me when we encountered them, so I drove back out to the village later that afternoon to photograph some of them before they were removed.
As the number of people buying face-masks and gloves has increased, so has the number of them I see discarded on the floor.
I try not to be all doom-and-gloom about the human race – we’ve achieved so many amazing things. Sometimes though, it’s hard not to think of ourselves as just a blight on the planet. Consuming that which we don’t need and polluting with what we don’t want.
It really isn’t that difficult to find a bin in most places, and if not, just take the rubbish with you until you do.
14 June was the day before the reopening of non-essential retail stores in the UK. Signs were apparent in windows, both those of retailers re-opening on the 15th, and also those who would remain closed for now. Debenhams, a UK department store, was one of those re-opening it’s doors and there was a sign in the window of it’s cafe area (although I don’t think that this part of the store will resume business just yet).
Elsewhere, there are still signs of the contruction project to renovate and re-develop part of the town centre into a new “retail quarter”. I wonder how the impact of the pandemic will affect the plan, particularly if retail is slow to return to previous levels (if it ever fully recovers)?