Hello dear readers

How are you all? How are you feeling? A little freaked out and anxious?  I think you can allow yourself to be worried as we’re living in unprecedented times.  But first, I’ve been writing this post as a draft for several weeks now. And when I began this I’m sorry to say it was entirely about my own particular set of circumstances and state of health, with which, naturally, I’d become a tad obsessed over the past two months or so. Yet now, how can any of us be unaware that we are all, everyone one of us, living in challenging and dangerous times.

So, first of all, thank you so much for your words of encouragement and good wishes.  I loved reading them and they were a great support while I was unwell. To sum up my situation.  I already know that, in an instant, your health can tumble out of control and all the good living and healthy food, exercise and good intentions plus the strong genes you thought you had can disappear in a flash.

I saw my consultant cardiologist a couple of weeks ago and the verdict is that I had an inflammation of my heart muscle (a myocarditis) from that secondary more fluey infection I got after my Xmas cold. But also, he thought my blood pressure was on the borderline of being too high. It was not, btw, Atrial Fibrillation (AF).  My heart arrhythmia is ventricular (the lower half of the heart). The official diagnosis is that I had ventricular ectopy with bigeminy and trigemini. So I am to continue a beta blocker for a few months more to get me back to normal everyday living and I should at some point recover completely.

But everyday, normal living? What is that?  For weeks I was a captive in my own flat, unable to function beyond tottering out of bed, showering and sitting on the settee without moving because any effort whatsoever brought on a feeling of collapse.  But thank goodness we live where we do! I can look out of my window right now and see the hustle and bustle of the city, the people, the buses and the blue, blue sky.  And once I started a beta blocker I went out ’round the block’ and began dropping in to some of the small independent and uncrowded shops that are part of the village community that is my part of Brighton. I even have two charity shops just 5 minutes away from my flat! The thing is though, two Fridays ago the consultant encouraged me to try all my ‘normal activities again. That was good advice then because I was so near to becoming agoraphobic, and actually I do admit to losing a huge chunk of my confidence. I mean, the heart is so central to one’s being and when it doesn’t let you even chop a cabbage, you do feel, where is this going? But now? I don’t think so. So I still haven’t been on a bus, gone into the centre of Brighton, gone to the hairdressers (oh my word, my hair is going to get long) or the beautician or participated in my regular Pilates classes. Because, people, I am just going to continue with what has been my life since Christmas, as in, I shall be practicing the art of social distancing. Indeed yesterday the UK government said that people over 70 will be advised to do just that for months.

The coronavirus is with us now and won’t die away completely in the warmer weather. And perhaps we can’t quite believe that we do have to change our ways and adapt to this awful state of affairs. So here’s some thoughts I have on this.

It’s amazing how quickly one adapts to self-isolation. Before Christmas I was as active as anybody could be, and then nothing.  But my body told me to do nothing so that’s what I did. I mean of course, I was really unwell.  And now?  I’m easily exhausted but I could be out there in the centre of Brighton doing my thing, meeting people for coffee, going to Pilates and rummaging through charity shops, but I was taking it slowly, I don’t have a lot of energy and, of course, I won’t now.

So how to adapt to this state of affairs?  I was asked this question only yesterday by a friend nearly my age who lives on her own.  How to live over these few months? I didn’t immediately know but I have thought about this ever since she asked.  And I’m going to say, one way is to live more in your head.  To explain.  Through those two months of heart disturbance I never went out but I didn’t feel isolated because I was constantly on social media.  Now some of you might recoil and say I would never… but maybe this is the time to find out more?  It is one way to cope. So here’s how I use social media.

You’ve heard it is a bad place.  Actually you make your own personal social media space a lovely, safe, kind and funny space.  It is your space, you are a nice person, your social media space is therefore going to be a nice place. So Facebook.  My Facebook space is not used for Frugalfashionshopper, instead it is a personal space for people I have physically met and known for years. I love my Facebook friends of which I really only ‘see’ about 10 of them regularly. But I am constantly in contact with people who live in France and the States, and I speak to  them daily through my posts. I am never alone with Facebook. And as well as being very political, in this space, I am also repost lots of amusing stuff, and am therefore always on the lookout for laugh-out-loud things to pass on to my friends.  It’s a fun way to pass the time 🙂

Then there’s Twitter. I also love Twitter. You’ve heard it’s a really bad place. No, you follow people you admire and you get rid of anyone you don’t like. I follow journalists, mainly political journalists, and some celebs, like the Reverend Richard Coles, and a few, very few fashionistas. I have actually made friends on Twitter, because people get to know you from the way you tweet. Very early on I met one of them in person, that was Tricia Cusden of Look Fabulous Forever fame. And last summer I met another friend I made on Twitter in person.  But others I haven’t met I feel an affinity with and they with me. You’re never alone with Twitter.  A final word is that it is a place for writers, I think. There’s a lot of witty and amusing stuff out there on Twitter, but for those nervous of starting on Twitter, for at least a year I just followed people and looked at their tweets, there’s no need to actually tweet.

Instagram, though, is the pits!! Because of some very dubious followers – all of them men or bots. But you can make it your own. I have walled off my account. It’s private. I haven’t  posted for ages but I still look as my Instagram space is full of wonderful, lovely women who I admire – more power to them.  I delete most requests to follow me, btw. And I don’t take Instagram seriously in any way. But I like looking at the pix.

And don’t forget emails. They are my letters to friends, so I admit I write long emails, but I see them  as a good way to communicate with people.  Not everyone likes a long email. I have had it said, gosh, I didn’t know how to reply.  But I just see an email as a way to talk to people. I don’t btw, like a phone call. I find those intrusive. I have a couple of friends (older than me) who actually see it as more polite to talk. Not me, for me it’s polite to write! But everyone is different – we must live and learn together, and talk to each other in the way that is most comfortable.

So, another thing is to get into a routine. In the early days I couldn’t even write. Gosh, that meant I was very unwell. But once I regained my energy and reduced the arrhythmia (with the beta blocker) I spent/spend the morning on admin, emails, social media and a little writing.  Btw, always when at the laptop, or whatever, get up and walk around at least twice in every hour.

Yes, do some exercises during the day, every day. I have re-introduced a gentle warm-up routine.  I will move onto press-ups, eventually, slowly does it. Then get out of the house! This is not self-isolation, this is self-distancing. So I walk out of my flat to the parade of uncrowded small independent shops, and then down to the sea-front.

Reading. In the early days of my illness I didn’t even have the energy to read so instead, I watched a lot of daytime television – some programmes were quite addictive.  I never ever watched daytime TV, but Homes Under the Hammer anyone?  I can’t have enough of that!!! I rushed out to buy the latest Hilary Mantel, The Mirror and the Light but still can’t summon up the concentration. Instead I have given myself over to thriller/detective stories – I especially recommend Peter May’s the China thriller series.

I have used online food shopping far more than ever.  I’ve been getting groceries online since I was 60 so that’s 13 years and counting. I mean why wouldn’t you get your heavy shopping delivered to your door? It is so convenient at any time. OK, before this situation came along I would buy meat separately from a butcher. But now? I got a huge order in last Friday – of everything.  So I haven’t encountered any empty shelves (I mean loo paper – what are people doing) because I don’t go into food shops.  Although 5 minutes away from where I live there is a wonderful deli with superb vegetables if I run out of anything in the next few days. On the day of delivery I thought Sainsbury’s had been wonderful as I got most of what I ordered. But two days later when I went to book my next order there wasn’t a single delivery slot for Sainsbury’s food for 3 whole weeks. After searching around I found a delivery slot by joining Asda – needs must, people.

Actually, a couple of days on from that, my conclusion is that deliveries of food in the UK from supermarkets have collapsed – so watch this space.  My view is that if there was such a thing as joined-up thinking, everyone who is going to lose their jobs in the retail, catering and hospitality industry (my heart goes out to them) should be re-directed to food delivery; especially for those older people who don’t know how to, or couldn’t order because they are not online. This is a crisis. Let’s do some out-of-the-box thinking on this.

When I was really unwell I discovered the joys of online clothes shopping!  And the best place to look in the UK I think, is Warehouse, which has some great cut-price sales items. You’ll see a couple of items I’ve bought from Warehouse soon.  But here’s a shot of a hat bought locally in a shop 5 minutes from where I live.

I’ve also ordered other products on online like vitamins, dental care, books, hair care. You name it, I’ve bought online and had it delivered to my door.  But I feel for the small shops and independent stores that may not survive if we go into lockdown.  Where is this going to end with news that the pandemic may continue into the Spring of next year?  This is why we are anxious – this is unknown territory.

I am a political person so it wouldn’t be new for me to criticise politicians but I was not happy with the government’s somewhat laid back attitude at the end of last week and our leader’s phrase, ‘some of your loved ones are going to die’.  Excuse me, why aren’t you fighting for every life in the land, and testing everyone. You won’t know the patterns of contagion. Good grief, this goes again science and the evidence you need to fight it.  If South Korea can test, so can we. And we all matter, including those who are in the vulnerable age group (my age group) and have some health issues (me again). But let’s be positive. I encourage you to drop in to the Age Well Project blog, which has many links to research based articles and advice to eat well and healthily. We all need to take extra care of ourselves and our body.

I’ve lain many a night sleepless in the dark, wondering first whether I’ll survive the heart arrhythmias and now the coronavirus. I fear not just for myself but my children, but was almost relieved to hear that the youngest person to die in the UK so far was 59 (RIP, I’m so sorry) but my children should be OK.

We’ve updated our wills, set up Powers of Attorney and signed an End-of-Life Directive. We’ve also written a letter to our children to be attached to the wills giving them some direction re: our respective funerals. I think I told you this before, but I don’t want any formal ceremony, instead I want (if they can manage it) a swishing party with people paying £5 (which will go to charity) and then they help themselves to all my lovely clothes, hats and jewellery. Any clothes left over will go to the charity. They don’t have to stick with this, but if they’re wondering what to do, there are some ideas that might help.

And when the sun shines don’t we all feel better! Here’s a couple of pix of me sitting in the sun on the seafront. Oh I do love to be beside the seaside!!

And another staring out to sea pretending I’m  on a cruise

Without any fuss, the Saga cruise line has allowed customers to cancel future cruises and get their deposit back. Good for them. We had a cruise booked in August – this is not the year to go on a cruise!

That’s all for now, my dears. Thank you for reading this. I shall post, at the most, once a fortnight as I still lack energy.

Be safe, be warm, be well.

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper



68 thoughts on “Living the normal life! Can I though? Can we?

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:29 am

    Dear Penny,
    I’ve just received this and haven’t yet read it properly but I must just say how pleased I am to hear from you. I’ve been thinking of you and hoping you were coming through your strife.
    Best wishes for your continued improvement

    • 17th March 2020 at 12:17 pm

      Good words. We are experiencing the same thing here in Minnesota.

      • 23rd March 2020 at 11:24 am

        Good luck over the pond – we have rather similar leaders!!!! Take care 🙂

    • 20th March 2020 at 8:45 am

      Penny, so pleased to read that you are getting better. Wonderful to see your smiling face again! We live in strange and trying times, but I am hopeful this will pass. Our government has responded quite poorly I feel, the main concern is big business, but I worry for people on lower wages, with no back up. I think France are offering far more to people but can’t see the Tories adopting such an approach here. Keep on getting and staying well. All good wishes, Carole.

      • 23rd March 2020 at 11:17 am

        Like you, I really think we should have strong clear messages to ‘stay at home’ because there are some really stupid people out there behaving as though this is some kind of holiday. Apparently Brighton beach was crowded over the weekend – this is so thoughtless and will lead to a lockdown. Mind you I think we should go that way. You take care and good wishes to you too 🙂

    • 24th March 2020 at 8:50 am

      Dear Penny, Just wanted to say how delighted I was to hear you are on the road to recovery. I have enjoyed reading both your blogs for some time now. I had been wondering how you were doing and am so pleased about your recovery. What a scary time for us all now. Best wishes Jeannie.

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:30 am

    I love the swishing funeral idea! May pinch it for my own. Take care and thank you for the great ideas.

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:38 am

    Thank you for your encouraging post. Please keep writing them as I know they really boost my spirit and everyone who reads them. I Teach exercise to music and am off now to tell the class it’s cancelled for foreseeable future. Sad times.

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:40 am

    Lovely to see your mail again. Penny, I don’t know you, but I have been thinking of you often and wishing both yourself and your husband well. Take care of yourself
    After watching the bulletins yesterday I feel there is more clarity about dealing with this virus. My freezer is full to the brim, we have lovely friends of my children offering help. A relief for us and also my boys who all live away. Yesterday I sent my husband out for paint, window sills need doing, an ideal time for DIY. So, I am feeling quite positive but don’t know if it will last until…..? I look forward to your next post. Best wishes

    • 17th March 2020 at 11:14 am

      What a lovely human, honest, practical and uplifting post Penny and I am afraid I have missed out on your health news. Wish you a good recovery. Life will never be the same again and I am mining life for the gems… kindness, new ideas. Time now to slow down as and be. Our 4 mth puppy gives such joy. No social distancing from him. Just boundless joy.

      • 23rd March 2020 at 11:20 am

        Thanks Steph, I love hearing your news, and yes, I’ve had some practice in social-distancing (!) and actually it’s not that bad. I am reconciled but I think it is more difficult for the younger age groups to grasp what is necessary. Let’s see whether we go into a lockdown. I agree that a dog is such joy.

    • 18th March 2020 at 4:59 am

      Very glad your on the mend Penny. Like others I really feel uplifted by your fun, informative posts.
      Best wishes for the months ahead – life will go on, just differently.
      Nuts at the grocery shops here in Oz!
      Hoarders be gone is my mantra at the moment.
      Cheers- Judith

      • 23rd March 2020 at 11:26 am

        This is bringing the best and the worst out of people, although I think the panic buying is kind of a natural reaction to the uncertainty. I really wonder if we should perhaps have some kind of rationing system.

        Cheer and love to you Judith x

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:40 am

    Oh gosh Penny, I am so pleased you are getting better and it was lovely to see your new post. Onwards and upwards and take care of yourself. Best regards, Doreen

    • 17th March 2020 at 1:26 pm

      Lovely to see your post. Come through I didn’t know about your health issues but I’m so glad you are on the mend and trying to be positive. I had health issues in 2018 and have been left with a chronic illness which has left me with health problems but I’m trying to keep in a routine rest and keep positive and will follow your steps take care and stay safe penny

      • 23rd March 2020 at 11:29 am

        Until a couple of months ago I had nothing much wrong with me at all, but there you go, wallop, and I have a heart arrhythmia! It’s like a wake-up call, I am mortal! But the beta blocker is working its best and I am recovering – baby steps. You take care and stay safe and well 🙂

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:51 am

    So glad to hear from you, Penny.I’m sure we’ve all missed your blog these past weeks and I’ve often wondered how you were doing. Continue to keep getting better and take care ! That is all any of us in the vulnerable age group can do.
    Like you I’m lucky enough to live near the sea, yesterday hubby and I went for a walk, it was a glorious day. Here in Greece the measures are very strict, only the essential shops are open. I could kick myself that I didn’t get a pedicure when I could, will have to bear with the corns for quite a while. I think it would be easier to live with this if we thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel. My heart sinks at the dismal predictions that this could last for months, on the other hand China seems to coming to the end of the worst.
    I’m going to read, knit, email friends, and a lot of cupboards are going to be tidied !
    Let’s all hope and pray for the best, and that it will soon be a horrible memory ( and maybe lessons learned , not to take anything for granted. )

    • 23rd March 2020 at 11:32 am

      I’m also kicking myself that I didn’t get a pedicure or get to the hairdresser. Personally I think the UK should into a lockdown situation with rationing to sort out the delivery of food. This could go on for months but it will pass, eventually. We have to adjust and I’m sure we will.

      Take care and stay well 🙂

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:54 am

    Penny! Lovely to have you back online here. And there are (at least some) charity shops that sell online! Well, Oxfam anyway … https://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/ x

  • 17th March 2020 at 10:07 am

    So glad to hear from you again, you have been through the mill! Stay in, stay safe. I’m only in my 60’s but my hubby is 70 with diabetes and my children have insisted we self isolate….I tried to book online groceries, never felt the need before, totally impossible now! So the children say they will do it! Strange, scary times xx

  • 17th March 2020 at 10:20 am

    It’s good to hear from you again Penny and to know that your health is slowly improving, heading in the right direction. I’ve just opened my email so I’ll look forward to reading your post properly later, you’re always so inspirational and have lovely ideas.

    We’re in difficult times but at least we’re heading into Spring and can enjoy seeing more sunshine, all the lovely flowers appearing and wildlife being very busy!

    Take care. Cathy X

  • 17th March 2020 at 10:34 am

    So good to ‘hear your voice’ again, Penny…you have been sorely missed! Your sane, balanced and positive perspective is of enormous value -especially at difficult times. Glad you are patiently making a good recovery.
    Loving wishes to all,

  • 17th March 2020 at 10:38 am

    Wow! I’m so pleased to see you back. Have been thinking about you and hoping you are ok. I do just come into the over 70 category and although my husband is 66 he has asthma. So we are both being careful. However I do like to be outside in the fresh air so I hope we won’t be stopped from walking and cycling. And community gardening! I am part of my local In Bloom group and I do hope we can carry on. Although many are 70+ we are all fit and healthy and met in the open air. So really low risk. As you say though worrying times. With every best wish for you continued recovery. X

  • 17th March 2020 at 10:52 am

    So pleased to read your post and see you are getting better! Was often thinking about you. Very worrying times. The govt makes a stuttering move one day, gets flak, and then changes its policy the next day. So none of us know where we are. I am still determined to go to my mum’s at the weekend in Plymouth for Mother’s Day. She was worried about me coming but now wants me to, and I am going to get her a tablet and install Skype. I’m just worried now that after yesterday’s half-arsed govt statement advising us not to go to pubs/restaurants, they will step it up before the weekend to a proper crackdown. Will just have to wait and see.

    • 23rd March 2020 at 11:34 am

      The lacklustre advice from our lacklustre leader is not helping, hence the crowds over the weekend on the beaches and in the parks. I really think we should be told firmly – stay at home. It’s good to be back Gail – we will all adapt I’m sure 🙂

  • 17th March 2020 at 11:03 am

    So pleased to hear from you again. I have wondered on several occasions how you have been getting on with your health problems. Glad you are slowly on the mend. As you say, we are in scary times, and I fear for myself and my children. My son lives in London, and think he may well have already had the virus. He was very ill with the fever and cough, but ringing 111 did not help him, telling him to self isolate. When his chest/breathing became really bad, they sent him to a specific medical centre, but when he got there it was closed. In the end he struggled on and is finally getting better on his own, but he was never officially tested. I felt really useless being so far away from him. But Skype is a wonderful thing, and although he was not up to it when he was really bad, we have chatted a lot, and last weekend he set it up so that we talked to him and our daughter in Bristol at the same time. I do feel for all those small (and large) businesses that are going to suffer, as we all go into lockdown. We are finding ‘projects’ in our garden to keep us busy as the weeks go on, but the internet generally is a life saver providing plenty of entertainment in one way or another. Well, Penny, I hope your health continues to improve, and that you and yours stay safe.

  • 17th March 2020 at 11:13 am

    What a lovely human, honest, practical and uplifting post Penny and I am afraid I have missed out on your health news. Wish you a good recovery. Life will never be the same again and I am mining life for the gems… kindness, new ideas. Time now to slow down as and be. Our 4 mth puppy gives such joy. No social distancing from him. Just boundless joy.

    • 17th March 2020 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Penny, so glad to see you back again, I had been wondering about you. I’ve missed reading about your news, ideas, opinions etc
      Here in Spain we are into our second day of total lockdown. It’s a weird sensation, not being able to go about ones normal daily life, when one feels very well and is used to daily activities.
      So what to do, well, keep busy at home, it’s not so difficult. I’ve made my own hand sanitizer and now I’m making masks, just in case they are needed, and I have quite a long list of ‘to do’s’, that I hope will keep me going for however long this lasts!!
      Hope your health continues to improve, and you keep getting stronger. We need you!!

  • 17th March 2020 at 11:40 am

    Like all the other emails, so good to have you back. I have missed your posts. Keep getting stronger every day and my very best wishes to you and yours.

  • 17th March 2020 at 11:42 am

    So good to hear from you! It’s wonderful that your heart condition has been identified and your health steadily improving. We are self-isolating here in Northern Michigan for the next three weeks and appreciate your tips on how to cope. Be safe,

  • 17th March 2020 at 11:57 am

    Good luck and good health. I have always enjoyed your posts, both this and the ‘other’ one. I’m sorry to hear of your struggle with heart problems. My family has been having a difficult time in the past year and I haven’t kept up with all your posts, but now I realise why I hadn’t seen any. You are so practical and matter of fact it is a help to us all at this very difficult time. Keep well.

  • 17th March 2020 at 12:39 pm

    Welcome back Penny
    I’ve missed your posts. I’m glad that you’re on the mend. My strategy for coping with the current situation, admittedly in these very early days, is to take pleasure in small things. Today from Southsea, they are goldfinches on the way to Southsea Common, sunshine for at least part of the morning and a 1000 piece jigsaw for wet days to look forward to.

  • 17th March 2020 at 12:49 pm

    I have thought of you often in the past weeks, and am so glad you got us caught up on your situation. Heart conditions can knock the stuffing out of you for quite a while, so do take it slow. All our gyms and pools are closed so along with the exercise the social aspect is lost and that is missed. My coffee group that I relied on heavily twice a week is no more and hugs and spontaneous laughs are missed. I do talk on the phone to certain people and email alot but texting is almost impossible with thumbs that don’t work. I appreciate your post this morning as I have a granddaughter in England right now who is trying to get home, and maybe now not until the weekend. Penny, do take care of you and Mr. FFS . I will eagerly look forward to the next time. Love to you.

  • 17th March 2020 at 12:50 pm

    So glad to hear you’re feeling better Penny! All sounds similar to how things are here in Redlands, California! I’m in San Bernardino County and only 2 infected people so far but it’s near! Just washing hands and social distancing! Praises to all medical staff and our grocery workers trying to get shelves restocked. Stay healthy!

  • 17th March 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Like your other followers I’m pleased and relieved to hear from you as I had been wondering how you are getting along. The virus has come at a particularly bad time for anyone like you who is recovering from an illness. Your experience of being necessarily ‘confined to barracks’ is encouraging to those of us who might have to do this. Husband and I are under 70, so not in the most vulnerable group, but we don’t want to pass it on as we have been away in the UK last week and I travelled by train. Our choices are being made for us by the closure of the local theatre and probably the cinema too. I’m due to support someone at a PIP tribunal tomorrow – if it goes ahead – and although I’d rather not be close to her I cannot leave her to face it alone.
    I think the government response has been proportionate so far. We will probably never know how many people get the virus as a lot of infected people will be either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and the effort in terms of staff and lab time to test everyone will be better directed towards those who are seriously ill. We have to accept that information is limited and partial because no one yet knows exactly what the effects of the virus will be.
    I will be going out for walks – I’m lucky that I have open fields on my doorstep – and doing my exercises at home. We can also go out in the car to the sea & countryside as long as we keep our distance. I’m wondering about getting some wool to knit or crochet this week as there will be a lot of time to fill although I will be reading, watching TV (have you seen Shakespeare & Hathaway?)
    I don’t think I’ll be doing social media – my husband has had 40+ years in IT and has a deep distrust of these platforms. I will be speaking to people on the phone, however, it is so much better that texting or e-mails. We can at least have a laugh together ; the human voice is so important to us all, to convey support and affection.
    We have 2 cruises booked, in June and September, which I’m still hoping we’ll be able to take. Perhaps I’m just in denial but I find it very hard to believe this is going to be as bad as they think – we shall see! I buy a lot online but I’m wondering if there will be disruption to the postal and delivery services if personnel become ill or self-isolating as a precaution. I’m really concerned for people working in the so-called gig economy and the hundreds who have one-person businesses.
    We also need to use the time to do things like update our wills and make sure our POAs are valid. I’m going to write to an elderly friend in a care home and send some photos as we can’t visit.
    I’m listening to the radio where someone is saying that the shared experience of this problem will change society positively but if the aftermath of the financial crash is anything to go by I can’t say I’m hopeful. So much remains to unfold………We are certainly living through a significant period in history – ‘May you live in interesting times’ as the ancient Chinese curse has it!

  • 17th March 2020 at 1:32 pm

    So happy that you are back Penny. I have missed you!

  • 17th March 2020 at 2:04 pm

    I join the chorus of “so happy to hear from you”. I loved hearing about your baby steps back to health and well-being. I find I so often forget the value of baby steps. I want to stride, run, leap forward and get frustrated with the timeless rhythm of “three steps forward and two steps back” as being a reality for almost everything. I am in Vancouver and we also have newly embraced the closures, the social distancing, the half-empty grocery stores and seeing too often the greedy selfish side of some. People are afraid and it brings out the worst in some of us. I choose to believe that there is a deep river of kindness and compassion flowing beneath the surface as we will discover when we watch for it. (If I’m wrong, I haven’t lost anything by clinging to my faith in human nature.) Stay strong and happy and be well, Penny. I love everything you write. I pray your energy increases daily and your joie de vivre with it. Your new hat is spectacular and I love the images of you sitting under the blue sky by the sea. I’m going to the sea tomorrow to walk with a friend (although we call it the ocean here). We can walk as far apart as we want to. Sending love. xo karen

  • 17th March 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Glad to hear you are recovering. It’s a pity you’ve been isolated and now that you could get out you can’t. Better to be safe than sorry as you are no doubt a bit vulnerable. Face time is good for me with my daughter in Seattle and my son in Dublin as I am in Nice. I stopped going to charity shops weeks ago they are where I buy almost all of my books luckily I have plenty to read. I’m wondering if Amazon etc will be told to stop delivering. We have a balcony with a nice view too. As of today mid day we have to have a form stating why we are not at home with multiple choice reasons eg food shopping, going to the doctor visiting family, no form and you can be fined 38€. I think the reason is to make us even more aware of the dangers of contact. Anyway stay safe and positive that’s most important. Courage!

  • 17th March 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Penny, Thank you for posting – so sorry to hear that you have been under the weather recently – I had wondered if things had taken their toll as we had not heard from you recently but pleased to hear that you are on the mend. Keep well and safe -we all look forward to your blogs – whenever they might be. Not forgeting, Regards to Mr. FFS too.

  • 17th March 2020 at 4:32 pm

    I’m so glad to hear from you. But so sad that you are not feeling like you’re old self. It takes a long time doesn’t it. I’m staying at home for the next week because I’m very vulnerable. But I already hate it. And worse off all, our Holiday in April isn’t going through we think. Still havn’t decided. But I want to go to the UK so badly. It has been to long. We’ll let’s just go with the flow right. Wishing you all the best dear Penny.

    • 23rd March 2020 at 11:12 am

      Oh Nancy, you must indeed stay at home. I know it’s challenging but I am reconciled to social-distancing and have worked out a really good routine. We still get out for a walk, but I wonder how long that will continue as there are some really stupid people out there who are congregating in large crowds on the beach and in parks – this ain’t a holiday!!!!

      Wishing you all the very best Nancy – stay safe and well xxxx

  • 17th March 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Penny. I, too, have missed your messages and fashionable outfits. They have brought joy and excitement to my life. When I see an email from you, I can’t wait to open it! I, too, am in the vulnerable group of people over 70 (way over) and am taking every precaution I can to try and stay safe. So glad that the doctors found out what was causing your discomfort. Recently, I was diagnosed with AFib and am taking it slow as my energy level is nil. A positive attitude and keeping busy helps, as well. Cleaning closets is good too!

    Stay well — I am rooting for u, from here across the pond.

    • 23rd March 2020 at 11:10 am

      Thank you so much Claire – I know what you mean about energy levels! You take care and stay safe and well 🙂

  • 17th March 2020 at 4:43 pm

    I’ve missed your posts and always look forward to reading them. I was unaware of your health problems but so pleased you’re feeling a little stronger now. Onwards and upwards…… btw I love the photos too. Gill

  • 17th March 2020 at 5:01 pm

    Hello, Penny! I was so relieved when I received notification of your post. I have been wondering how you are health-wise, especially when I was walking across Devil’s Dyke, last Sunday. We were supposed to be doing a house-sit in Hove, this week, but obviously it has been cancelled. How wonderful that there have been so many comments on this post; a great testament to you.
    Please take care and keep safe. June x

    • 17th March 2020 at 8:29 pm

      Dear Penny you have been sorely missed by so many of us. Was absolutely delighted to see your email today & to read that you are making good progress in your recovery, long may that continue. Yes, changeable times we’re living in, if we all pull & support where we can, we will come through these times stronger & with more resilience. Take extra care & keep safe.

    • 17th March 2020 at 8:38 pm

      Hi Penny
      Lovely to have you back! Like all the above I have really missed your posts. So pleased to hear you are really on the mend and great that you are using your experience to give us all advice to help us survive the extraordinary days to come.
      Looking forward to hearing more from you as and when you can. Take care and keep well
      Penny x

  • 17th March 2020 at 7:34 pm

    So sorry to read about your health issues. Wishing you speedy recovery so all your friends in U.S. and abroad can read your interesting newsletters. We live in a Senior Community and have had many restrictions placed on us for our benefit. Meals have been brought to each resident and the management have sent staff to check our temperature to keep residents safe. We are staying home bound for the past week but are keeping busy within our apt. One of the major grocery stores are delivering. No family or friends may visit. It really is for our benefit but we must be careful and stay healthy. Wishing you good health and much to keep you busy. Seeing you outdoors near the water is something we miss. We can go outside to walk around a park track which gives us some activity. Stay well and hopefully you can continue to write your wonderful messages. Best regards,

    • 23rd March 2020 at 11:08 am

      Good to hear your news that your community is taking steps to protect you and serve you meals. You take care and very best wishes 🙂

  • 17th March 2020 at 8:22 pm

    Wonderful to hear from you, and wonderful that you’re on the mend. Slow and steady wins the race! 😊
    Re. Facebook, I had stopped using it, just got fed up with all the crap and negativity that so many people post. But my daughter told me to get back on it so as to follow/join a local Covid 19 help and advice group. It’s been heart-warming the last couple of days reading how so many good people are willing to help others with shopping, picking up meds, etc. Similar groups are happening all over the UK apparently. It would be marvellous if this community spirit carried on even after the C 19 outbreak has (hopefully)settled.
    Gorgeous new hat btw x

  • 17th March 2020 at 8:31 pm

    I’m so glad to hear you’re getting better and better Penny.
    It definitely is the time for online shopping. I still worry about the small businesses though.

  • 17th March 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks so much for mentioning The Age-Well Project, Penny, and glad to hear you’re on the road to recovery. You look so happy in the seafront pictures! X

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:11 pm

    so happy to see that you are back. it is hard to believe that it has come to this but here we are. thank you for all your suggestions. i went to the library for a couple of books last week and later that day it closed down. glad i got there in time. trying to get a walk in daily weather permitting and do yoga. my classes have all been cancelled naturally . what you said about having a routine is so important but I am struggling to follow this advice. hope you are back to your fit self soon as i do so enjoy your posts.

  • 17th March 2020 at 9:53 pm

    Dear Penny
    So glad you’re feeling so much better and are back online. I have wondered how you are from time to time and felt a bit worried sometimes.
    Thanks for all your suggestions as to how to keep busy in isolation. Like you I am 73 and so am in the risk category and have therefore cancelled all the classes and social dates that I normally attend.
    Like you I feel the government has been extraordinarily complacent in it’s attitude to the coronavirus and it is an extremely worrying time.
    Very difficult to get anywhere with Ocado shopping at the moment.
    Take care of yourself.

    • 23rd March 2020 at 11:06 am

      Yesterday Sainsbury’s put out a message on Facebook that they were aiming to identify and support the vulnerable and over 70s and today their website released a few delivery slots for tomorrow ,which I took up as the last delivery had many gaps. Food delivery is so key to everybody’s health and sanity – I hope that this means the supermarkets are beginning to sort out what’s needed. You take care too 🙂

  • 17th March 2020 at 10:22 pm

    I’m so glad you’re recovering well, Penny, and very glad to see your back blogging.

    Your advice was sound and I agree; social media will be even more important. I’ve been in bed with Thomas Cromwell for a few nights now and it is completely engrossing!

    Stay well,

    • 23rd March 2020 at 11:03 am

      Keeping Thomas Cromwell for the total lockdown – stay safe and well xxx

  • 18th March 2020 at 12:37 am

    Hello again! Just read a great quote from (apparently) Malcolm X – ” Replace the I with we and even illness can become wellness”.

  • 18th March 2020 at 8:47 am

    How lovely to see a new post from you. It sounds like you have had very rough start to the new year but I’m pleased to read that you are now feeling better. Hopefully the sun will soon start to shine more often and some healthy Brighton fresh air will help you get back to ‘normal’!

    • 23rd March 2020 at 11:02 am

      I think we should turn 2020 off and reboot the year. Brighton is great and it’s sunny today and we’re still managing to get out but for how long? Stay safe and well xxx

  • 18th March 2020 at 1:23 pm

    We are spending a lot of time outdoors, in our backyard and taking walks in our neighborhood. Thankfully the weather is pleasnt for the most part. Adapting to school at home and finding new ways to entertain ourselves!

  • 19th March 2020 at 7:50 am

    Dear Penny, so good to see you back and on the mend. These are very difficul times for us all. I live in Italy, fortunately in an area which hasn’t been too badly affected by Covid, but what has been happening in the north of the country is atrocious. I’ve also been going through my own personal hell. Without going into too many details, my daughter was taken very seriously ill nearly three weeks (not related to the virus) so I’ve been forced to see at first hand the level of excellence of Italian hospitals and medics. They literally saved her life on various occasions. Thankfully she’s out of the woods and has been moved to a rehabilitation unit very near our home and has started to make a slow recovery.
    On a general note, as the situation in Italy doesn’t seem to be improving, starting today we can no longer go to parks or gardens for our walks. Only close to home.
    I send you all my best wishes and look forward to reading your blog when you feel up to it. Stay at home and take care. Xx

    • 23rd March 2020 at 10:59 am

      Christine, so sorry re: your daughter. I trust she continues her recovery. A lot of us fear that we are following in the steps of Italy as we are not being given consistent messages from Boris. Stay safe and well – very best wishes to you too xx

  • 19th March 2020 at 11:00 am

    It was great to read your post, I have missed your usual chatty thoughts. Your health is your wealth!! and I hope you have turned a corner and will soon be back to your old self. A little better each day, ‘baby steps’.
    Being in lock down, isolation or whatever new jargon is being used right now has forced us review our lives and to step back from the hustle of 2020 living.
    I live on the Isle of Man, as yet we are virus free, that will change, as every item from a safety pin to a new car and supermarket stock is all imported here by ferry. Its coming to get us!!
    I look forward to your next post, keep well, keep warm and keep your chin up.
    kindest regards

  • 20th March 2020 at 1:55 pm

    Hello, Penny
    Welcome back! Like others, I have worried about you and yout husband.
    You seem to have the keep-busy problem well sorted. As a real Oldie – 80 soon – and a house mouse of choice, although I do love being out and about and actually travel a lot, I am lucky enough never to lack interests, so for me, self isolation per se, isn’t a problem. What does irk though, is not being able to go where I want to when I want to. Now, that IS frustrating!
    But who am I to whinge when so many others are far far worse off and suffering dreadfully.

    I hope you won’t mind my using your forum to send good wishes to everyone who reads your blog, with special virtual hugs to Christine and her daughter in Spain.

    And you take care too, Penny, you and t’other half- and it’s nice to have you back!

  • 23rd March 2020 at 8:57 am

    Penny, my first time to your blog – pleased to meet you! I am glad your heart is getting stronger and you are more able to do the things you love. Forgive me for saying this, but your leaders and ours (I’m from the U.S.) are idiots in regard to Corona virus. (Well ours is an idiot in regard to most things.) My husband and I are self-isolation most of the time as is my mom. I agree with you that social media makes this situation far more bearable.

    Please continue to take care!

    • 23rd March 2020 at 10:57 am

      Hi Michelle
      No forgiveness needed as I am in complete agreement with you. Our leader is fundamentally right of centre and a libertarian so it goes against every atom in his body to tell people what to do. His first approach was also ‘herd immunity’ which was a complete disgrace and will have cost many lives as we haven’t prepared well. I hope there is a reckoning but unfortunately we’re quite a compliant race. Also the mixed messages from his daily briefings have led people to think ‘let’s go out to the beach or the park’ leading to huge crowds at same. Duh – I predict that we’ll be in lock down by the end of the week.

      Challenging times.

      • 23rd March 2020 at 1:25 pm

        I am a left-of-centre liberal and I don’t like telling people what to do either. I’m no fan of Boris or the Tories but it would not matter who was in power in a situation like this. I agree that the PMs delivery is not as coherent as it could be but he seems to be acting on expert advice. Perhaps that advice has not been as clear and emphatic as it should have been ? He actually said that people would die – how more forthright can you be – and was criticised for that! Any government in a situation like this (not that there has been one before……….) is between a rock and a hard place, reassurance to avoid real panic and clearly stating the risks, and has to try to carry people with it. The behaviour we have seen is mostly among the young who still feel invulnerable – didn’t we all when we were young? Local teenagers were out playing football in our local rec at the weekend & I was pleased to see them there – they only just stopped school where they were all together anyway. The panic-buying is an attempt to retain some level of control in a constantly changing situation where everything is becoming more and more uncertain. This is very psychologically challenging for people, particularly in a individualised society like ours. We’re retired so it’s easier for us to stay at home – we are there a lot of the time anyway. Our income is secure (we hope so at least) & we own our own home – how fortunate we are! I think it’s good that we are ‘quite a compliant race’ at the moment. We are going to need to be if law and order is not going to break down, I don’t really want to think about that possibility yet!

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