A year ago this month the country first began to hear news of a new coronavirus called Covid-19 with cases in Italy. At the end of 2019 there had been talk of a virus in China but we had no idea or understanding that it would spread worldwide and our lives would shortly become like some ghastly nightmare.
February 2021 and the third Lockdown continues. However, there is a marked difference to the first when roads and streets were virtually empty and wildlife began to roam the streets. A great sense of jaded weariness has affected everyone. There is much talk and help through the media with well know personalities, including members of the royal family, talking about the fragile mental state of both adults and children. Businesses throughout the country are failing, over 350 per week, including the empire of Sir Philip Green which has meant the loss of Debenhams, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and more well known names we have known and loved since childhood. Our high streets are looking sad and neglected with so many outlets not just closed but gone. Valentines Day passed by without being able to celebrate at a restaurant.
Even the weather is extreme. First Storm Darcy battered the country, causing floods and damage and then The Beast from the East Two, plunging us into a winter wonderland with snowdrifts and icy conditions making the daily permitted walk treacherous. The black birds seemed to gather in large numbers and looked wonderful against the snow. All the garden birds were much in evidence on the feeders. Temperatures plunged to -10c at night and rose to barely 0-2c in the day. Then suddenly, after ten long days, all melted away and we experienced temperatures normally enjoyed in May! Spring suddenly arrived and we were cheered by the snowdrops, primroses, crocuses and hellebores and then the cheerful daffodils swaying in the breeze. Sadly of course, no visits to gardens to see carpets of snowdrops which is always such an uplifting sight.
The vaccine program continues apace with over 20,089,551 people having received the first dose and 796,132 the second, as of 28 February. However there is concern about both the South African and Kent variants and differing information on the effectiveness of the vaccines to completely protect individuals vaccinated. There have now been over 122,000 UK deaths from Covid-19.
Among all the gloom and difficulties, towards the end of the month two positive news items. Firstly, Perseverance landed on Mars and immediately started sending amazing photos back to earth from the red planet. An incredible achievement by all the individuals involved who have worked towards this for so many years. Secondly, the government have announced a ‘road map’ for the lifting of restrictions and a return to a more normal life. Starting from 8 March, with five weeks between each stage, with all restrictions lifted by 21 June. There is the proviso that all will change if the ‘R’ number begins to rise one again.
Three of the Frogmoor artists are doing a ten to thirty minute daily sketch. Below are a few examples from this month.