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The English Apple Man


20th Mar 2020 - We are all living in a very uncertain world!

At this time of the year, The English Apple Man would normally be concentrating on the development of the new apple and pear season!


At this moment in time, the season is circa 10-12 days earlier than the long term average. Talking to a grower friend today he started spraying for apple scab 10 days earlier than last year.


However, with Coronavirus dominating our minds and every day bringing a greater level of anxiety, I have found it difficult to think about anything else!


Just two weeks ago I was at an Awards Dinner mixing with friends, with no real concern for what would become an exponential upward curve towards the most challenging period in our lives since World War 2.

I am by nature a 'glass half full' person and try to see the positive in whatever life presents but like many in these turbulent times, my wife and I are 78 & 79 respectively and well aware of the need to self-isolate and social distancing


Having observed the 'social distancing' when in the company of others (dog walking - shopping for essentials etc.) and copious hand washing we felt we were being sufficiently diligent.


We are of course very lucky with general good health, but knowing we are in 'the zone' and aware of the need to self-isolate, we have tried to be diligent and stay at home, only venturing out to walk our dog and buy the essentials for daily life.


Probably only another 4 months to go!


BUT suddenly circumstances change: on Monday Poppy our beloved working Cocker spaniel, 13 years old yesterday (19th march) suddenly collapsed in what looked like a fit. So a visit to the Vet ensued, the verdict her heart murmur has worsened and she had a temperature suggesting an infection. More medication and so far so good!


BUT, while waiting in the surgery for 3/4 of an hour, I suddenly thought all the effort of isolating and when outside keeping a safe distance from others, as we sat there wondering if we were sharing the room with someone carrying the virus!!!!!!!!


Just one instance and one that hundreds of thousands will have experienced daily




Last Thursday 12th March I ordered shopping online from Sainsburys including two packs of Toilet rolls!!!


The delivery scheduled for Tuesday 17th between 4.30 pm - 5.30 pm - on Tuesday morning I received an email from Sainsburys reminding me that delivery would be at the arranged time, BUT just one or two items were unavailable - TOILET ROLLs one of them. To say I was frustrated is an understatement!!!!!!


A visit to Sainsburys that morning and I enquired what procedure is used for preparing the online shopping basket. I I asked why after ordering 5 days earlier, the were no TOILET ROLLS? - "Ah well we assemble the order from the shop floor as if we were a shopper and if something is unavailable, then it is crossed off the order list"


Well I assured the lady I was not cross with her (not her fault) but asked how "us oldies" who are being threatened with lockdown, were supposed to shop online if basic (but very important essentials) could be "struck off" - I suggested Sainsburys need to re-think the procedure 'PRONTO'


Concerned about the lack of 'essentials' I toured other Supermarkets, (Stupidly risking close contact with others) to no avail, apart from collecting a number of boxes of Kleenex (dual-purpose essentials)


Thank God for our sense of humour - I am sure it will be relied upon to get us all through the frightening challenge ahead!


So, the delivery arrived at 4.30 pm as promised (very nice cheerful and helpful delivery man) - 2 crates containing our shopping taken into our kitchen and emptied, we returned said crates to our delivery operative.


THEN - examining the 'spoils' of our first online shop, I cried out with laughter - our Brussel Sprout order was just that: 'one brussel sprout' packed in a very small bag and labelled (2p)


Was this a considerate strategy from Sainsburys, with no toilet rolls available e.g. 'half a sprout each' should cause no 'reverberations!


In this social media age I could not resist circulating the toilet roll v one sprout story - ha ha ha


BUT, while still laughing at the stupidity of sending one sprout individually bagged and labelled, my dear wife called me. Ahem!! it's your fault, not Sainsburys - "you (that's me) ordered loose sprouts and entered 1 in the box!


Oh Dear, how embarrassing, they must have thought, "what a nutter" ordering one brussel sprout - I would reply, what a whally - bagging and labelling a single sprout!!!!!!!!!






Returning to the start of a new apple & pear season, the fruit bud development is circa 10-12 days ahead of the long term average, but not too much different than last year - seasons have been getting earlier (on average) for many years.


In my garden, the Red Devil, Bladon Pippin and Red Windsor are between bud swell and early green cluster.


Below: left to right; Red Devil, Bladon Pippin, Red Windsor on 15th March 2019



Below: left to right; Red Devil development on 20th March 2020



Below: Bladon Pippin pictures showing the variable bud development on 20th March 2020



Below: Red Windsor pictures show the most advanced development on 20th March 2020





Human Nature - the good, the bad & the ugly


The pandemic will demonstrate the vagaries of human nature; many rise to the challenge and bend over backwards to help those less fortunate and some clearly have no feeling for their fellows - the news today that a shopper returning home was 'mugged' for his kitchen rolls - while in a Supermarket this afternoon (looking for toilet rolls!) 3 young men passed by joking about Coronavirus - I overheard: " And I love Corona (the drink) then simulated "cough cough and much laughter"


MORONS - they think they are safe from a Fatal ending, but even the young can become an unfortunate statistic and it might be their parents or grandparents who suffer fatality!






FINALLY Each day the Coronaviris news escalates. Today we learnt all Pubs, Clubs etc. must close.


Our Government faces a challenge not seen since World War 2. One criticism we hear is the lack of testing in GB but the Statistica graph below shows we are ahead of the USA and Japan.








































Until next week stay safe


Take care


The English Apple Man