Categories
Ireland

Excited to see the solar eclipse

You can only see a partial solar eclipse from here but I was excited to see it.

Looks amazing.

Categories
Ireland

The Price of Petrol

The price of petrol in my local filling station in Blarney now stands at €1.259/litre. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that low here before. The Blarney station isn’t the cheapest in the area but I haven’t visited anywhere else in almost a month. I’ve been told the price went as low as €1.199 elsewhere in the city.

The last time I filled up was about three weeks ago when I remember using a latex glove to hold the pump handle. I’d normally use sanitiser anyway but it seemed prudent to be extra careful. The price then was €1.299/litre, not far from the price when I started recording my fuel usage in 2010 when it was €1.289/litre!

We’re only allowed travel for necessities like shopping, work or caring for others. There are Garda check points. There were reports of Dublin and UK reg cars in West Cork last week prompting the Taoiseach to ask people not to travel. People are sent home again. There’s hardly any air travel. Dublin airport reported only 900 people passed through the airport on Easter Monday when normally there’d be 100,000.

On Monday evening there was only one aircraft flying over Ireland, and that was the coastguard helicopter.

The fall in price wasn’t due to COVID-19, but that contributed to it. Demand for oil was slowing down already but from my experience the price was still at €1.399/litre in early March, and that was probably at one of the cheaper places. The Russians and Opec were having a price war. Opec wanted to reduce pumping but the Russians ignored them and continued pumping. It seems now there was a deal two days ago so we might see prices jump again.

Restrictions are going to continue until May 5th and of course we all know they’ll go on for longer. A vaccine for general use won’t be available until next year so we’ll have to learn to live with it.

My son plays Minecraft with a friend in Sweden who is still going to school. We’re wondering why since schools here have been closed since March 12th. They think that children aren’t super spreaders so there’s no need to close them.

While other countries, or rather, their inhabitants, struggle with varying levels of lockdown, Sweden has relied on relatively few recommendations to try and prevent the spread of the virus.

Nursing homes have been closed to visitors, higher education has been moved online and there’s a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

Authorities have also encouraged people to work from home and to avoid unnecessary journeys.

But primary and secondary schools up to the age of 16 remain open, as do hairdressers and gyms, and restaurants and bars can stay open once they offer table service to avoid crowding at counters and bars.

A large emphasis has been placed on personal responsibility, and anyone with symptoms is asked, and trusted to self-isolate.

But is the strategy working?

As of today, over 1,000 Swedes have died from Covid-19, an increase of 114 deaths on the previous day’s figure and around 11,440 have been infected, out of a population of 10 million.

I went out for a cycle. The roads are much quieter. It was lovely. It almost felt normal because I was well away from the few people walking around. I heard birds singing.

Categories
Health

The new normal

A month is a long time, an advert on the February 27th Naked Scientists podcast was run by the Local Enterprise Office here in Ireland for “Local Enterprise Week” at the beginning of March to “help local business grow in 2020”. I wonder will people become wary of meeting others after this pandemic is over? I’m slowly catching up on my podcast backlog. Many are being recorded at home or even on a park bench as happened with the March 16th episode of Planet Money.

Schools in Ireland closed on March 12th, so we’ve been at home since then. New restrictions were introduced on March 27th, as summarised by Gavin Sheridan:

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced:

1. For two weeks, to April 12, everyone to stay at home in all circumstances (except essential services, shopping, medicines, care for relatives, brief exercise)
2. All public and private gatherings of any number of people banned.
3. All non-essential shops closed.
4. All community centres closed.
5. Shielding introduced to all over 70s.
6. All visits to offshore islands banned.
7. No travel outside of 2km of your home (except reasons above), for any reason.

New restrictions announced

It has made a noticeable difference. I haven’t left Blarney since then. Even before that I had curtailed how much I walk but now it’s a quick walk around the park with the dog in the morning and evening. Pokemon Go gyms have been relatively stable. There’s one by the River Martin that hadn’t been attacked for over 100 days until mid-March but because more people were staying “close by” they were walking down there. That has stopped now and the gym hasn’t been touched in 7 days.

Google Fit knows I’m not going anywhere

Blarney Woollen Mills is blocked off, but you could still get in to the grounds there if you hopped over a low wall. One of the gyms in there remains untouched after 15 days!

Blarney Castle Garden was open until a few days ago, but the new restrictions closed them.

Dave Bolger created a site called 2kmfromhome.com where you can find out how far you can exercise. Simply launch it on your phone and allow it access to your location. It will then display a map around you with a circle where you can go.

Work on the construction site across the road from my home has ground to a halt which we’re grateful for. The road outside is still clogged with dust and of course they never clean it up properly.

PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, is a phrase that has entered everyday language. Every country has shortages of it but Aer Lingus are flying to China to pick up PPE worth millions of Euro.

If I remember correctly the Government expects to buy €225 million of it over the next months. Unfortunately the latest flight had to return and make an emergency landing after a bird strike.

People are queuing outside shops because the stores have limited how many people are allowed in at one time. Going shopping is stressful. People jump back from you if you get too close. This thread on Reddit compares it to a survival game.

Last Week Tonight was filmed at home. Other American talk shows are too. Ryan Tubridy presented a couple of episodes of The Late Late Show without a studio audience but a few days ago it was reported he had tested positive for Covid-19. Miriam O’Callaghan took over last week’s show. Irish radio shows are being recorded at home. My wife rang the bank this morning. The woman she spoke to is working from home and thought it was weird. She’ll get used to it.

Chris Hadfield offered advice for people staying at home

In a sure sign that people are getting used to this new normal some on Twitter were worried that bots were congratulating and supporting the government on everything they do. I somehow doubt that’s happening and others have pointed out that it’s really hard to get a Twitter username without trailing numbers unless you come up with something unusual. I bet there are a whole lot of new Twitter users now looking for the latest news.

Concern that Twitter bots are supporting the government.

Fine Gael are no saints and they’ve made lots of mistakes in the past but they deserve our support at this time.

the state hospital
with one bed

always full
always efficient

Even Jim Corr, he who fights the New World Order and the evils of 5G had choice words for Paddy Cosgrave who is repeating all sorts of nonsense and lies. Quite a moment.

There are two many cases where people have spat at Gardai and told them they are infected. A father and son in Cork did this and were arrested. A woman in Dublin did the same.

I saw on Twitter this morning that a 13 year old boy died of Covid-19 in London. Heartbreaking. 🙁

If you have a few minutes write a letter to Andrew McGinley. In January he found his 3 children dead in the family home. His wife was found nearby and has been charged with their murders. Andrew is feeling the effects of isolation.

He is getting lots of post but this one just breaks my heart.

Amidst all that WordPress 5.4 was released. Yay!

I love the header image on r/Ireland.
I love these Zoom backgrounds.

FYI – the first case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland was reported in late February, with the first case in the Republic two days later on February 29th.

News from Italy is still dire but they seem to be slowly flattening the curve there. 17 more died in Ireland yesterday from the virus. 🙁

Categories
Life

I rescued a cat today

Somehow a cat got stuck in the cavity blocks of a wall in Blarney today. My wife was alerted to it by a post on the Muskerry News Facebook page. She was very upset and decided immediately to go up there and see what she could do.

I know the area well as I bring my dog for a walk there most days. I thought I could get the cat out by breaking the block around it so I grabbed a hammer and screwdriver, and for height a plastic chair from the garden.

The cat was so calm and friendly. She didn’t once give out, or try to claw me. She was obviously in distress because she had only her head and a single paw out.

After 20 minutes of carefully digging around her she pulled back into the wall so I was able to break it apart more quickly She came back too soon and poked her head out again, and wouldn’t duck her head back down to make my job easier!

My wife had a brain wave then to get the tin of cat food she had left in the car. We allowed the cat to smell it and made sure she saw us drop a few bits into the block in front of her. A moment later she ducked down to eat and I was able to dig away at a faster pace.

Once again she came up for air, but she backed down again and eventually the hole was big enough and out she popped with a little help! 🙂

I took her off the wall and put the tools away in the car to shouts that, “the cat has jumped up on the wall and is trying to get in again!” Luckily there were humans around to discourage this adventurous side of her personality. I grabbed a few rocks and covered the hole.

I recognised the cat once she was out. She tried to make friends with my dog a few times when we were out walking. Lovely cat, hopefully she’ll keep out of trouble now!

Three days later I went for a walk this morning and the cat is still safe and sound. 🙂

Categories
Donncha

Why is our car all dusty?

I have no idea. It’s only parked outside our home, where it’s always been.

Yeah, that’s where it comes from. When you live across the road from a building site. Where trucks queue on the road. Where they blast their horns on the main road to alert the crew on the site of their imminent arrival. Where I felt the air in my kitchen vibrate and resonate with the sound of the jack hammers and trucks passing. We fought it, we should have won, but we lost.

I had a really bad headache today.

Categories
Photos

St. Patrick’s Day 2018

The 17th of March this year was a very cold day. It was overcast and dreary. A bitterly cold wind blew. Ireland were playing England in rugby at the same time most parades were taking place, which makes it all the more extraordinary that people turned out at all to watch and cheer on the parades around the country.

The Blarney parade was smaller than previous years, and the crowd was definitely smaller too but they made up for it in sheer enthusiasm and good cheer. I have to salute those of the parade who walked the route dressed in uniforms or costumes. I could not have done it!

Categories
Ireland

Snowpocalypse Day 3

More fun in the snow today of course. Storm Emma wasn't quite as strong as we were all led to believe (voluntary curfew from 4pm yesterday to noon today for example), but it still dumped more snow on us that I've ever seen in Ireland.

All that snow made it easy to build another snowman or two, and provided plenty of ammo for a snowball fight later in the day. Snowballs to the side of the head can hurt …

One of our cats, Hoppy, disappeared for several hours today making us very worried because of the cold temperatures and drifting snow. We went out searching for her several times, talked to neighbours and called for her throughout the day. She suddenly reappeared tonight looking for petting and attention and purring loudly. Her coat was barely wet and wasn't cold so she had found somewhere warm and dry to hide away in. Should have known she'd land on her feet!

Looks like rain tomorrow. The two snowmen in the back garden won't like that!

Categories
Ireland

Snowpocalypse Day 1

The snow has arrived! The #BeastFromTheEast is upon us! In Blarney snow fell this morning for about 40 minutes and left the ground looking lovely and white when you're inside. It was awful if you had to go out in it though!

-3C in the car this morning
The school run
I carried Diego most of the way to the school, and back. He was happy to get back in the car!
Clearing the windscreen on Carr's Hill. Photo Credit: Ki Bosch.
The Sun is shining

The snow fall didn't last long. Getting back up the hill into my estate was fun, involving high revs in first gear. Thankfully some of my neighbours had put gravel down on the road which helped. The relief as I felt the tyres catch on the rough surface was wonderful.

School is out at 11am though, so the kids get snow and bright pleasant, if cold, weather.

Tomorrow is Storm Emma.


Edit: Victor Barry posted a great photo of Cobh on Twitter.

"The National Emergency Coordination Committee has asked everybody in Munster and Leinster to be indoors by 4pm tomorrow and to stay there until midday on Friday.

Cork Safety Alerts on Facebook

All schools in Munster will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Aaron Woods has great photos of Cobh as well.

Of course people have panicked and shop shelves are empty. Bread is in great demand. Send bread!

Photos of Crosshaven in Co. Cork from Facebook.

Categories
Ireland

Clearing the Road of Fallen Trees

The trees that fell on the Waterloo Road were cut down and cleared off the road surface this evening, observed by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy. A fire engine illuminated the scene, with a wood chipper at the side of the road, a small lorry and a JCB completed the perimeter of plastic railing surrounding the site. They made short work of the branches and other debris on the road. 🙂

Categories
General

The Aftermath of Hurricane Ophelia

Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland yesterday and while it was a baby compared to the monsters that ravaged the Caribbean and US it still did plenty of damage and left 3 people dead. Many areas were left without electricity or running water for most of the day. A day later and there are still areas without those basic amenities. Telecoms services were disrupted too as lines were cut and exchanges and mobile sites ran out of power. 30,000 people were without access to phone or Internet access. A red alert was declared nation-wide. Schools closed (for 2 days), public transport wasn’t running, shops and businesses didn’t open. There was a definite fear and expectation that this would be a big one. And it was. Gusts of 156kmh were recorded off Roches Point!

We were without power from just after 11am, then the mobile phone network, Eir, went down, except my wife’s phone was able to go online for minutes at a time throughout the day. Winds really picked up around 10am, and lasted until after 2pm with driving rain almost horizontal in the wind. Later in the day I walked around Blarney village and from the far corner of the square got a weak signal from a remote antenna and had just enough connectivity to get a few text messages.

Trees behind our home were knocked down by the wind, blocking most of the main Waterloo Road. Luckily the very tallest trees survived as they’re within reach of some of the houses!

Even this stop sign was twisted around by the wind, and mushrooms flattened too..

Two trees were knocked down in the village square, and someone had attempted to drive a car and caravan up that narrow road before getting stuck and abandoning their vehicle!

Power came back late yesterday evening, as did mobile data, but friends are still without power even now so it’s going to take some time before things are back to normal. Our satellite dish is broken, and it’ll be early November before someone can come out to replace it. Parts of my garden fence blew over too, but that was on it’s last legs anyway! A TV antenna ended up in our front garden, but I have no idea who owned it.

This morning there was a lovely sunrise, and the sky was a gorgeous mix of blue and soft orange. 🙂

Next weekend we can look forward to #StormBrian apparently. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as Ophelia.