New Year’s Eve

It’s been distinctly chilly here for the past few days. We had a bit of snow in the afternoon of 28th, which settled. A little bit more snow early on 29th – when I got up, the nespero tree was bent double (literally, the crown touching the ground) under the weight, but it soon recovered when I went out and shook it off. Snow turning to sleet on 30th, but little of the snow melted.

the first of the snow
the first batch of snow

I’d been due an Ocado delivery on 28th – rather a large one (nearly £250), partly because I’d managed to run out of assorted expensive items (olive oil, etc) at the same time, partly making sure I’m fully stocked in case of Brexit disruptions. However, as I wrote to my schoolmates group:

I was due a major food delivery today, from Ocado. I get two deliveries a month, regularly, and have done for the last seven years.

Last time there was snow on an Ocado day, things went fairly smoothly. I had a call from them, to say that the van had skidded off the road, but a replacement order would be issued and sent out with another driver, and would be about three hours after the booked time. It duly turned up, with a stunning-gorgeous and very apologetic driver – and I emailed Ocado to say “well done”.

We have about two inches of snow today. I had a phone call just after the end of the one-hour slot that the delivery was due, from the driver. He said “the roads are bad”, “there’s snow”, and he “had to get back to the depot”. As I usually pick an “environmentally-friendly” delivery slot when the van “is in the area”, I was profoundly unimpressed. The Ocado website continued to say that the delivery was on its way, but would be about 50 minutes late. After 90 minutes, I got a text to say that the delivery wouldn’t happen, but I could re-book on the website … the next date it offered me was not until 4th January!

The website then changed to say that they were unable to deliver today, please rebook.

I’m not a happy bunny! I rang Customer Services and was “rather firm” with the (very nice) lady there. She is currently trying to ring the depot, who are obviously being deluged with calls! She’ll call me back if/when there’s any news. I’ve said that I’m happy with a delivery this evening, or tomorrow, but 4th January is simply not acceptable.

I understand that the massive increase in on-line orders has stretched them considerably. I’m generally sympathetic to those experiencing unexpected problems. What I’m massively pissed off about is what seems to me to be a complete failure on the part of the driver and depot to attempt to sort out any useful way forward!

I am rapidly becoming a Grump(ier) Old Man.

Fortunately, Sandra from Customer Services rang back late afternoon, to say that they’d get to me between 9 and 12 on 29th. The driver rang at 10 on 29th, and delivered around 10.30. I’m very grateful, though a couple of items (especially bananas) were rather the worse for wear.

Today (31st – New Year’s Eve) is glorious sunshine, but the temperature hasn’t yet risen above zero, so there’s still lying snow, and the cold snap is forecast to continue for several days. I’ll light the stove shortly – since the sweep came a few days before Christmas, I’m much less worried about doing so! Tonight’s meal will be a roast duck (from frozen – originally bought a couple of months ago, when it was entirely unclear whether or not I’d be spending Christmas here in Worcester on my own). Roast spuds, parsnips, cavolo nero etc. Later will be a raspberry flan, using frozen home-grown berries from last summer’s glut.

The garden this morning:

garden with a bit of remaining snow

Christmas Eve

Going out to put the final bag of rubbish in the bin before going away, I noticed that “something” has had a go at daffodil bulbs in the front garden. I suspect squirrels, which are notorious for digging up crocuses – whatever it was, it clearly didn’t like the taste, so hopefully he rest of the daffs will be OK.

half-eaten daffodil bulb

Jane arrived just before 10 on Christmas Eve to collect me, and had a quick look round (the first time she’s been here) before we set off. Both of us wearing masks in the car, of course.

After lunch, I managed a quick walk round a very muddy Common. Sadly, I’d forgotten to bring a walking stick – most unlike me – so was rather slow and cautious. Going on to the start of the Common, there’s a ditch alongside the field hedge, which simply stops existing halfway down, so the water simply diverts to run down the path … becoming in effect a seasonal stream.

water running down the path

Occasional gleams of sunlight during the walk, one of which spectacularly lit up a set of Silver Birch, which really lived up to their name here.

silver birch

(posted retrospectively)

Life on plague island

I’ve had a really rough couple of days, though am now just starting to emerge from it. Seasonal depression is part of it, of course – I’ve been struggling for a few weeks, but that’s perfectly normal for me. I’ve been on the cusp of depression, but not actually over the edge.

However, the massive change in lockdown/tier arrangements only a few days before Christmas has deeply unsettled me. The lateness of it all, coupled with the certainty that it will rapidly prove to be not rigorous enough, is certainly part of it. The having to re-think Christmas travel arrangements and discussions with my Mum (and pressure to stay on extra days once I’m there) also doesn’t help. The sheer mechanics of getting stuff to people I’d expected to see over Christmas and now won’t: dealing with post and carriers at this very busy time shouldn’t have proved arduous but was right at the limits of my ability to perform.

So it was a severe bout of depression. Not going to bed until the small hours, waking before the alarm went off, loss of appetite (I under-shot my target 1500 calories a day by nearly 300 calories yesterday), intermittent bouts of tears for no reason, and massive apathy. All the usual signs.

I think / hope I’ve started to turn the corner, but am fretting about how I’ll cope, away from home, with the normal stresses (and of course pleasures) of a family Christmas, even curtailed and severely reduced in numbers as it is. I feel that I’m only marginally on the “not quite depressed” side of the border, and certainly don’t feel stable there.

Having coped well with the covid crisis for most of the year, I suspect part of it is things finally catching up with me. The start of next year maybe even worse as Brexit looms, and I’m actively trying not to think about it, though I will make sure that the food cupboard is well-stocked. At over £200, my next Ocado order is about a third higher than usual – though a fair bit of the extra cost is “treats” rather than essentials, reflecting my current low state.

Oh well, packing and house-cleaning are on the list for today – sister Jane is picking me up around 10am tomorrow.

“amaryllis”

I’ve had this “amaryllis” since my first Christmas here, so it’s its seventh year. I was worried that it might decide not to blossom, as it put a lot of energy into making a baby (offset) bulb, which I took off and potted on last summer. However, two flower spikes are coming.

"amaryllis" with two flower spikes starting

a difficult day

Rain all day, which has not been good for me. Increasing arthritis in my fingers means that I’m prone to dropping things, and I’ve been fairly immobile with back problems as well.

The rain finally cleared at teatime, leaving a brief but rather spectacular winter sunset.

sunset with leafless trees, from back garden

turning of the year

The garden rarely sees much of me between the end of November and mid-March, bar a quick sortie to pick veg or put peelings in the compost bin. But this morning I noticed that the daffodils have started to come up, both in the front bed and in the pot outside the French window. A quick investigate shows no signs of the ones further up the garden yet.

It’s a few days yet until the Solstice, but this start of new season’s growth is in a rather real sense the turning of the year for me.

daffodil shoots about an inch high

dendrobium

In the winter absence of “flowers from the garden”, I’ve put an orchid (dendrobium) on the coffee table, where it’s catching a fleeting ray of sunshine.
It’s a descendant of the one my brother sent me as a “moving in present” some nine years ago, when I first moved to Worcester.
dendrobium with white flowers

patio peach

My bare-root patio peach tree (peach pygmy “Bonanza”) arrived this morning – whoopee! I didn’t want to leave it indoors, for fear of it thinking spring had come, so have planted it outside straight into the half-barrel it will live in. I’m a little worried, but outside temperature is around 5C, and I’ve coddled the base of the trunk and over the roots with a wodge of fleece … fingers crossed!

peach tree unwrapped indoors

.

peach tree planted in half barrel