Race With The Devil

The South Downs Way is a 100 mile national trail that follows the old routes along the chalk ridges of the South Downs, many of which have been used for 8000 years. Jane’s lucky enough to live in this part of the country, and last Friday we took a nine mile walk that included several sections of the trail. It turned out to be a race against the weather. A race in which we lost. Massively.

All photos Fujifilm X100F

Through the wayward pines, and some early indications of the weather to come

Lambs! Hundreds of ’em…

Some serious rain starting to close in….

The Devil’s Jumps are a group of five large burial mounds on the South Downs Way, just outside the hamlet of Treyford. They’re around three to four thousand years old, and the main line of five barrows is aligned with sunset on Midsummer Day. We had our sandwiches on the top of one, and now I’m wondering if we’ve been a bit disrespectful. I mean, I’ve seen Poltergeist and Pet Semetary. Don’t mess with ancient burial sites.

The Devil's Jumps Fingerpost

The Devil's Jumps

These guys know something is going down

All along the watchtower

Just a few miles to go, but things ahead are not looking too good…

…but we’re also being chased from behind

That was the last snap before we were hit by just the type of end-of-times rainstorm you’d expect in 2020. Obviously I dealt with it in my usual stoical way1, but it’s always good to know: in the rain, no one can see your tears.

1. The original title of this post, ‘How I Survived a Hurricane’, was rejected by the fact-checkers.


In the alternative universe where a certain microbe didn’t leap from a bat, there’s a version of me holidaying in Barcelona right now. (NOTE: I am neither a virologist nor a quantum physicist). And even though my version of me is serval hundred quid lighter and stuck in England, it’s great to be able to do some of the simple things that make life feel normal. For the last couple of weekends, this has meant walking through the South Downs with the dogs, and spending time in the pub with friends. Just like people used to do back in Normal Times.

But it’s hard to know which way things are going, on all levels. Photos are a lot easier than words for me right now. There’s a sense of Autumn in the air, and it feels like there might be a storm coming.

Midhurst & the South Downs / All photos Fujifilm X100F

There’s a polo game going on over there in the fields. No spectators allowed these days due to Covid.

It’s not easy being this handsome

The dogs and the chickens co-exist relatively peacefully

Potato Wars!

And in the pub with friends. As it should be.

On the tipsy shuffle back home at sundown and past the ruins of Cowdray House, destroyed by fire in September 1793

This Week In The Coronapocalypse | Bertie Goes Home

So. Bertie went home this morning and I’m back to solitary confinement. I’m sad about this. These are the photos from our last couple of days together.

All photos Fujifilm X100F

Prior to this pandemic, thanks to Brexit and the ensuing culture war, Britain has been engulfed in political turmoil for three years. Each day seemed to bring a new political calamity, which was then promptly forgotten when the next one happened 24 hours later. Weeks felt like months, months felt like years. I really regret not keeping a simple note of events as they happened, just so I could look back and try and make some sense of it all.

So during this period I’ve decided to sum up the weekly events that have struck me the most, from the deadly serious to the absurdly ridiculous. If my tone seems flippant at times…well, we all have our own way of getting through this horror.

See all previous updates here

This week in The Coronapocalypse:

  • Italy begins to ease lockdown after eight weeks, with parks reopening and relatives reunited
  • Contact-tracing smartphone app piloted on Isle of Wight
  • Five Eyes Alliance contradicts theory Covid-19 leaked from lab
  • Virgin Atlantic to axe 3000 jobs and shut Gatwick operations
  • More than half of UK adults receiving some form of state financial help
  • Air France, KLM and Lufthansa make face masks compulsory for all passengers
  • Key Government Covid-19 advisor resigns after breaching social distancing rules with visit from ‘mistress’ (note to tabloid editors: nobody has had a ‘mistress’ since about 1890)
  • Bank of England predicts economy 2020 will be biggest economic slump in 300 years
  • 400,000 emergency PPE gowns flown in from Turkey fail quality control checks
  • Britons commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day and remember those who died in WWII, whilst many of the survivors die in care homes
  • Britons celebrate VE Day with socially-distant street parties
  • President Trump says coronavirus will “go away without a vaccine” but offers no scientific evidence
  • 14-day quarantine proposed for air passengers
  • Government announces £2bn plan to encourage more cycling and walking

Worldwide cases: 4,152,885 (previous week 3,484,558)
Worldwide deaths: 282,733 (previous week 244,786 )
UK cases: 219,183 (previous week 182,260 )
UK deaths: 31,855 (previous week 28,131)