Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Covid-19

Clematis Princess Kate – Zoprika

Following a negative Covid-19 test yesterday. Sean paid me a socially distanced visit and as always I was given presents. Firstly two beautiful cushions made by Deb. They match really well with the wallpaper in the bedroom. Secondly a big strong root of Clematis Princess Kate that I have been wanting for a couple of years. Very exciting. I plan on getting the other variety called Princess Diana which is equally beautiful.

This beautiful texensis type Clematis produces upright to nodding, bell-shaped flowers up to 6cm long that flare out widely towards their pointed tips. The petals have an attractive colouring, being white on the inside and stained reddish-purple on the outside. These petals form around rich plum-coloured stamens. The overall effect is very pretty and the plant has the benefit of a long flowering habit. RHS.

This variety was bred from the Clematis texensis, commonly called scarlet leather flower, a climbing vine in the buttercup family native to the United States, where it is endemic to the Edwards Plateau of Texas. Its natural habitat is on rocky limestone cliffs and beside streams.  Wikipedia

Clematis Group 3 Care Instructions :- In early spring cut back the previous year’s stems to a pair of strong buds about 6-8″ above ground level and apply a slow-release balanced fertiliser and a mulch of well-rotted garden compost around the plant avoiding the immediate crown. As a group three Clematis Princess Kate should be fast growing and vigorous.

2012 – The Breeder, Wim Snojer and grower J. van Zoest from Boskoop entered Clematis ‘Princess Kate’, in the annual competition and has won best new plant at Plantarium in Boskoop, the Netherlands. Judges from Koninklijke Vereniging voor Boskoopse Culturen said the plant flowers abundantly, bearing upright flowers with a unique shape, and has a well-chosen trade name, in line with other varieties of clematis. Zo – Pri – Ka

Almost A Year Has Passed And The Pandemic Rages On – 8th December 2020 V-Day.

It has been quite a few months since I last wrote in my diary. My life has been quiet and unproductive. I have had illness and stress of my own to deal with while the world around me has been rumbling on and dealing with the pandemic and financial crises. At last I feel as though I am back to health and able to catch up with my household jobs the accumulation of which had been adding to my woes. Now, it seems both myself and the world around me are reaching a more positive conclusion. Whilst both elements still have a way to go it seems there is a light at the end of the tunnel, or so I’m told by the Prime Minister. I find myself looking forward to the Spring and am hopeful that I and my family will be survivors of a year that has left many families grieving.

Genesis

When the world was celebrating the arrival of the year 2020 we were oblivious to the storm clouds gathering around us bringing death and destruction in the form of a terrible pandemic. We are now very aware of the previously unknown disease that was insidiously and stealthily creeping across the planet.

COVID-19

It was in China, in the province of Wuhan, that a young doctor, Dr Li Wenliang, first realised and reported that a new, previously unknown and very contagious virus existed that posed a serious danger to humanity. Dr Li was an ophthalmologist working in Wuhan Central hospital where the fist batch of sufferers were in quarantine. He paid for his foresight with his life. He was first arrested and silenced and then returned to work only to contract the virus and at the young age of 34, die from the very disease he warned about. The whole of mankind owes him a debt of gratitude for alerting the world to the arrival of a new invisible enemy.

Scientists around the world sprung into action and very soon the genome of the novel Corona Virus was sequenced and made available worldwide. We now know the virus as Covid-19. Corona Virus Disease and 19 because it was thought to have originated in 2019.

Research is still ongoing as to the origin of the disease. It is thought to be a zoonotic virus that jumped from animals to humans with devastating consequences. Hopefully this will lead to better understanding of the relationship between animals and humans and stop the exploitation of living creatures for food and medicine.

The Pandemic

All over the world, people of all ages, were becoming sick and dying. Hospitals were admitting patients who presented with fever, cough and breathing difficulties. At that time the disease was thought to be similar to SARs and was treated appropriately with oxygen therapy plus anti biotics for secondary bacterial infection.

We now know that Covid-19 is a multi system infection attacking every organ and even changing the consistency of our blood. Scientists and pharmacologists are working hard to find a cure. Many existing medicines have been tried and failed so a vaccine seemed like the only way we could beat this virus.

Vaccination

The first vaccine to be approved in the UK is a scientifically revolutionary Mrna based vaccine and has been created by Pfizer and BioNTech. Messenger rna vaccines work by introducing into the body a messenger sequence (a strand of rna taken from the genetic code of the antigen) containing the genetic instructions for our own cells to produce the antigen (virus) and so generate an immune response by our own immune system.

It will probably take a few weeks for our bodies to respond and recognise the antigen as an invader that needs to be killed. The vaccine must be given in two doses – three weeks apart – and offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19.

This new method of creating vaccine is quite a leap in the fight to beat disease and has further implications for dealing with other existing pathogens. Science is currently making astonishing advances in the field of medicine and I am very grateful to be alive to see it all happening.

Second in line for the vaccine was 81 year old William Shakespeare from Warwickshire!!!!!!!

Today, Tuesday 8th of December 2020, about a year since the outbreak was recognised and amazingly, the first doses of the vaccine are being administered to those at the top of the priority list. One of those receiving their first dose today is a 90 year old lady called Maggie Keenan and another is an 81 year old gentleman with the memorable name of William Shakespeare. Good luck to them and praise to the scientists who did in twelve months what used to take twenty years to achieve.

Maggie Keenan the 90-year-old woman who has become the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine following its approval in the UK, where the NHS has launched its biggest ever vaccine campaign.

Tragedy after tragedy….

As of 5 pm last night, 34,466 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 across all settings in the UK. More than 307,000 people have died across the world and 4.5 million are infected – Johns Hopkins University tracker

All of those numbers represent a person. An individual whose life has ended amid this crisis. I am amazed and appalled at the attitude of some members of this human race that I am a part of. I have always tried to see the good in everyone but whilst I am certain that the majority are aware of what is going on I still see so many who are turning away from the truth and not facing up to the seriousness of the situation we are in.

Every day we hear of a new family tragedy. The NHS staff and their support are to be commended for being there for us in such dangerous times. We owe it to them and all key workers to be responsible and do all we can to stop the transmission of this virus.

Keith Dunnington, 54, a nurse for more than 30 years, died at his parents’ home in South Shields on 19 April. His mother Lillian, 81, died on 1 May and her husband Maurice, 85, died days later in hospital. NHS staff, well-wishers and fire crews paid tribute to the family outside South Tyneside District Hospital.

Joanne Rennison, 52, died in an East Yorkshire hospital on 5 April. Seven days later, her father David Whincup, 79, died at Hull Royal Infirmary.

Pause for Thought

14th May 2020 …………….. The UK government’s daily figures released today show that a further 428 people have died with Covid-19 in the last 24 hours. This brings the total number of deaths in hospitals and the wider community to 33,614. The first recorded death was on the 6th of March. That is an average of over 487 deaths a day over the 69 days. Every individual an important person to the bereaved left behind to grieve. Lives lost; families broken; careers ended; children without parents, the list is endless and heartbreaking.

Mass testing is the order of the day now

More than 300,000 deaths have been recorded worldwide. A testament to the virility and speedy transmission of this extremely contagious disease.

Population is sticking to the rules

We are living in unprecedented times and history will record how we behave now. We must all do our part and my part has been very easy. I am a shielded individual as I am in a group most at risk. My only hardship so far has been to stay at home. Easy for me as that is where I am happy and safe. I am eternally grateful to all key workers who have been keeping the county going during this awful time.

Sunday 10th May 2020

Our NHS Staff

The R Number

…..and if we can’t do it by those dates, and if the alert level won’t allow it, we will simply wait and go on until we have got it right. We will come back from this devilish illness. We will come back to health, and robust health. Though the UK will be changed by this experience, I believe we can be stronger and better than ever before. More resilient, more innovative, more economically dynamic, but also more generous and more sharing.

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP Prime Minister

Evergreen Climbing Plants

In botany, an evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year that are always green. This is true even if the plant retains its foliage only in warm climates, as opposed to deciduous plants that completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.

Clematis & Jasmine

I already have a few clematis in the garden that I have accumulated over the years but none of my current collection is evergreen. I also have a very old Jasmine which has served me well for many years but seems to have gone very woody at its base but I am hopeful of flowers this year nevertheless.

I recently bought a trio of evergreen climbers from smartplantapp.com and they were sourced from http://www.guernsey-clematis.com/. Smart plant has been set up by an enterprising chap who could see a problem and came up with an answer to it.

Guernsey Clematis is a wholesale nursery that is struggling during the pandemic lockdown as most of the garden centres that they supply are closed. Take a look at the website. I am truly impressed by how efficiently it is being run. Very futuristic things are happening there and it gives me hope for the future of growing in this country. I decided to help in my way by making a small purchase. There are two clematis and one jasmine in the bundle that I chose.

The genus Clematis can be a deciduous or an evergreen shrub/climber or an herbaceous perennial. They mostly climb by twining and clinging to trellis or trees and come in many varieties. The choice is endless with some beautiful colours and types of flower. Most also have attractive fluffy seedheads in the autumn.

Jasmine is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family. It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Eurasia and Oceania. Jasmines are widely cultivated for the characteristic fragrance of their flowers.

Star Jasmine

Star Jasmine

Star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides is a woody, evergreen climber with rich, dark green leaves that turn bronze in winter. From mid to late summer, pure white, fragrant flowers are produced. It can be grown against a wall in milder climates or in a greenhouse or conservatory in areas prone to severe frosts.

Clematis cirrhosa Wisley Cream

Clematis Wisley Cream

The Cirrhosa Group of clematis are evergreen woody climbers with bell shaped single flowers, produced from late autumn to early spring on the previous year’s growth. The variety Wisley Cream is a large evergreen climber with divided, toothed glossy dark green leaves which are bronze in winter. It has pale cream flowers that can bloom from autumn to early spring followed by silky seedheads.

The variety was introduced to the UK in the 1970’s after being raised by the late Ken Aslet at the RHS garden in Wisley from seed collected in Southern Europe. Although it is Cirrhosa, Wisley Cream can go dormant during the Summer but it will produce glossy foliage over the Winter months and flower during mid to late Winter.

Clematis Kimiko

Clematis Kimiko

I am assured that this special evergreen clematis is one of the easiest of all to grow. Apparently, apart from the removal of the odd broken branch in spring, Kimiko needs no pruning at all. It is vigorous, hardy and healthy. It should produce fragrant flowers from early spring to summer over the entire height of the plant. Perfect for growing on an obelisk in a large pot in a tree or on a fence. Whilst best in a sunny location it prefers its roots in the shade. I have the perfect pot and obelisk for this tiny new plant and can’t wait for it to be 4ft tall and covered in flowers.

A new introduction from the Evison/Poulsen breeding program this compact evergreen climber produces abundant spring flowers year after year. info from Guernsey Clematis.

I really hope that this company will continue to serve the public after things get back to normal, Whatever that may turn out to be.

Can’t wait

Blue Skies

The number of deaths recorded in the UK today is over 30,000. Extremely sad news. However, the government and the scientists are telling us that we are past the worst and that the first steps back to normality are in sight.

This Pandemic has brought out the worst and the very best in people. Strangely, there are signs that a new way of life may emerge following our release from ‘Lockdown’. The government’s recent buzz word since the suggestion and then the mandate for us to “Stay At Home”. Rather than going back to life as it was before COVID-19 it looks like we may have learned lessons about how best to spend the time that we have left on this beautiful blue planet.

At present, the idea is, as this disease is so very contagious, that we keep well away from other people to halt the transmission and hopefully stop COVID-19 in its tracks.

Air, Rail and Road transport has been drastically reduced, the consequences of which have given us blue skies and cleaner air. All countries are reporting less pollution. Businesses are closed and those people that can are working from home. Those that can’t have been helped financially by the government to stay at home. Key workers like the health services, military, delivery drivers, postmen, police, shop workers, etc have had to carry on to help the rest of us. They have shown that they are essential to our way of life and so we need to look after them in the future.

Schools have been closed too resulting in parents and children being able to spend time with each other at home. All over 70s have been told to stay at home as if they should contract the disease they are more likely to develop a serious illness. This also applies to any other sick or vulnerable person. Pubs, clubs, take away food businesses and restaurants are closed so more people are eating a home-cooked meal together. Some children’s school lessons have been held online so no school runs. No more rush hour!!! Less pollution.

Supermarkets are doing many more home deliveries to help with the ‘stay at home’ order. Garden centres were talking about destroying many plants as nurseries were closed. Now new websites have been set up where we can order our plants online. On second thoughts deliveries mean pollution but perhaps not as much as previously as most nurseries are delivering in their own area.

Farmers were having real problems as the restaurants and bars are closed and so didn’t need their usual deliveries. However, now they have changed their business methods and are selling to the public directly via a website or word of mouth.

I hope that some of these beneficial changes will continue when the battle with the pandemic has been won. I hope less travel will be the order of the day and those business meetings will be held virtually as is the new normal. I hope doctors’ appointments will continue to be carried out online too wherever possible.

Finally, and very importantly I hope that our government has realised that we need to carry out much more of our own manufacturing and not rely on buying in from abroad. When I was younger jobs were easy to come by as our manufacturing industry was flourishing. It seems that we have been a country supporting the rest of the world instead of looking after our own people.

Support for new emerging businesses is needed. Good affordable housing and jobs for people so that they can afford to live well. Also, much more support for the Health Services and other key workers that we have relied on so much throughout this crisis. They deserve higher pay and better conditions across all the sectors. This would encourage new nurses and doctors to fill the many vacancies we have in the NHS here instead of going overseas to work.

We need to hold on to cleaner air, less traffic on the roads and in the skies, and more sensible shopping. More local food producers delivering to their local area cutting down on carbon emissions. Blue Skies, that’s what we need for the foreseeable future.

“This is War”

Richard J. Hatchett, MD, is Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a partnership of public, private, philanthropic and civil organizations that will finance and co-ordinate the development of vaccines against high priority public health threats and vaccine platform technologies to respond rapidly to emerging infectious diseases with pandemic or epidemic potential.

UK March 6th 2020. The CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, CEPI, Dr Richard J Hatchett MD, explains the long-term dangers of the COVID-19 coronavirus, saying it’s the scariest outbreak he’s dealt with in his 20-year career.

This man warned the world on the 6th March and here we are on the 23rd of April. Personally, I decided to go back and have another look at this and having listened again, I am wishing that he was Scientific Advisor for the UK. ‘War is an appropriate analogy‘ to quote Dr. Hatchett and, based on the evidence so far, it makes sense to me. Over eighteen thousand deaths in the UK since the 6th March. He says that he thinks COVID-19 will be endemic on our planet forever. If the long awaited vaccine works maybe we can live with it but I think we shall have to adapt our lives according to COVID-19.

On 23rd February the UK government pledged 20 million pounds to CEPI to support them in their endeavour to find a vaccine for COVID-19.

Update on 6th May from Dr Hatchett. “We have said from the very beginning when we started our programs back in January that we thought if things went well that we could anticipate vaccines becoming more broadly available potentially within 12 to 18 months. Obviously, several months have passed since then. We are seeing progress with our programs. Three of the vaccines that we’re supporting are in clinical trials right now. I think the timelines that we laid out then are still realistic. Possibly by the end of the year we might see some small amounts of vaccine becoming available but it’s hard to see how those timelines could be advanced much more quickly than that.

Today’s death toll is 616 hospital deaths reported in the UK in the last 24 hours making a total of 18,730 lives lost between the 6th March and today the 23rd April.

How long, I wonder, will I be reporting the daily deaths before it becomes the norm.

The story so far….

847 people have died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours

Before the arrival of the Pandemic that is COVID-19, most of the news coverage was related to our exit from the European Union. Great Britain had been part of the union since the early 70s and a democratic decision had been made to leave. It had become a long ponderous process but we were coming to the end of the negotiations. I personally was optimistic about the future of my country. I was hopeful that things might revert back to what I had seen in my youth. It wasn’t all roses but work was plentiful and life, on the whole, was good. We did import some food from the commonwealth but mostly our farmers grew what we needed seasonally and most of our commodities were produced in factories here. We had thriving industries and improving commerce. We were close to being a self-sufficient country.

The welfare state and the NHS were born more or less with me. In my lifetime they have always been there. A trusted cushion that my generation has taken for granted. I had the privilege to spend a large chunk of my working life in the NHS both in a hospital setting and in general practice. After retirement, I had a couple of years of respite before I was thrown into the heartbreak of caring for my youngest son, Adam, who contracted MND in 2011. Adam died on the 20th of February 2016. Adams’s death hit me very hard both mentally and physically. My life was on hold.

Suddenly this crisis happened, it happened all over the world and has made everyone sit up and take notice. As soon as the pandemic started the cracks in the British way of life began to show. The NHS was on its knees after years of cutbacks. Unemployment was rife. Our shops were full but most of the goods were sourced from abroad. When we suddenly needed increased supplies of medical equipment and medicines our government ordered it from abroad. First big mistake.

The country hadn’t had time to put things in place. Promises made by our government about massive improvements to our way of life following the exit from Europe hadn’t even been realised yet. This is a global problem. Each country was having to look after its own people. It seems that the impetus to source what we need has had to come from the people. Manufacturers, engineers, scientists, private labs and so on have stepped up and the government has had to be prompted to take advantage of the many skills that we have available here.

The people of my country have shown that they can adapt and produce the goods needed and adapt quickly. Precious time has been lost and as a result, many lives have been lost. I hope that from here on our government will learn from their mistakes. There is no end in sight as yet but we are nothing if not resilient.

I live in hope that we can eventually recover from this and make the country the exceptional place that it could be. Thriving and productive, self-sufficient, no jobless, no homeless, a good welfare system for sick and vulnerable, free education and health, clean and efficient buildings, good housing with gardens for everyone. A country to be proud of again. It will take a long time and I may not live to see it but we can do it. Our people deserve it.

A vaccine may be a long time coming