For some reason, we both slept badly last night. We were in bed shortly before 11.30 and I awoke for the first time around 1.30a.m.; again at 2.40 – I know the times because I went to the kitchen for a drink of orange juice as my mouth was dry. I woke several other times during the night and, finally, got up at six to find Mary was sitting in the living room – and she had also had a bad night’s sleep.
After breakfast, Mary likes to look at some of the gardens posted online from the National Gardens’ Scheme in the U.K. Because they can’t open to the public this year it was organised for many of the gardeners to make a video of their garden, a tour with commentary, pointing out interesting features and plants. She also likes to read various garden blogs and commented that everybody seemed to write/post their blogs on Saturday and that there is nothing to read during the week – and, so, here I am filling that gap! Of course, what I have to say will not be news to Mary but it is a pastime for me and she will read and comment later.
There has been a change, a change to some small degree, in my routine over the past fortnight. With Covid 19, we have remained very firmly at home, in isolation except for essential reasons to go out and those have been far and few between. We have taken a very few walks in areas we considered quiet and where we were unlikely to meet people. Everyday has been spent in the garden when the weather has allowed and, thankfully, the weather has been very good and the garden has been an excellent pastime. At this time of year, I would normally have regular outings with friends to see native Irish orchids but I haven’t been out once this year and it is unlikely that I will at all – something I miss dreadfully. As an alternative, and to have a similar experience, I have set out to see how many of the wildflowers growing locally I can find, photograph and identify and my total to date is touching 150 – not bad, I reckon! It’s a very pleasant activity and a great pastime combining a walk, photography and some research for identification.
There have been a few other incidents in the past week, mostly pleasant, thankfully. We had our first visitor into the house since the first week of March. An engineer from “Phonewatch”, a home alarm and monitoring company, called to replace a faulty battery. The battery serves as a back-up should the electricity supply fail and we wouldn’t have rushed to have it replaced except that the fault triggered an automated call-in/alert to the monitoring centre as many as twenty times each day – and my recent ‘phone bill showed over a hundred such calls so it had to be dealt with. We received a call in advance of the visit from the company and were asked if we had any of the symptoms associated with Covid 19 and advised on safety behaviour at the time of the visit. When the engineer arrived, I met him outside the house where he explained and showed that he was taking all precautions not to introduce any danger of infection into our house. He was in and out of the house in five minutes, being very careful to touch only those things which he absolutely needed to touch and was very thoughtful and conscientious in every way. It was an event we had anticipated with some little trepidation but which was handled so very kindly and professionally that it came as a great relief. A thumbs-up for Phonewatch and its engineer!
We experienced similar kindness from Laura at Griffin’s Garden Centre in Cork. Mary had wanted a big pot for the garden for some time, a pot as an ornament rather than one for planting, so something substantial. She found one online in Griffin’s and I contacted them by ‘phone. I spoke to Laura and told her my interest and she went to the bother of taking photographs and sending them on to me, taking payment over the ‘phone, and leaving the pot aside for our son to collect some days later – and, when he called and said he was there to collect a pot, he was greeted with “Oh, you must be John” and the pot was loaded into the car for him. He was working in Youghal yesterday – between Cork and Waterford – and we drove there to meet him and took the pot from him so it is safely here with us now and will be “installed” in the garden if the rain moves along today. Such a pot has to be “installed”, not just “put” in the garden: Size demands an appropriate vocabulary – and I hope it doesn’t break my back! Thank you, Laura, for such good service.
There was a text message on Tuesday evening from my bank – Allied Irish Banks plc – asking if I had just made a purchase from Nike to the value of €180 and would I answer “Y” for Yes or “N” for No. After the “N” was entered I was told my card had now been cancelled and that the bank would be in touch with me. I suppose I don’t fit the Nike customer profile so the attempt triggered a warning. This was a new experience for me so I checked my accounts online and all was in order and then telephoned “Card Services” at AIB where I was given the explanation that an attempt had been made to use my card details to make an online purchase but that it had been stopped. My card details had been “stolen” from some site where I had used it – as it was a very recently issued card this could only have been one of three sites, as it turns out. A new card will be issued. Sometimes, it is very reassuring to have a “big brother” or “big sister” and I am grateful to AIB for their service.
An unseen and unexpected follow-up from this was a letter enclosed with a delivery of groceries from Supervalu, our local supermarket, yesterday which explained that they couldn’t process payment for the groceries (the card had been cancelled, of course!) but had gone ahead with delivery as they knew we were regular and reliable customers. I thought it was very kind and thoughtful of them especially when the bill amounted to €250. A visit to their website, entering the details of a different card, allowed for payment.
So, there was my week – full of incident despite being in the isolation we consider best because of Covid 19 and with some happy experiences and kind people. Now, that “installation” must undertaken soon!