Category Archives: Uncategorized

COVID: Variations on a Theme

Here we all are coming up to 2021 and I find myself looking forward to 2022. 

But, it must be said, with the hope that 2021 could be something still. Still in a good way that is. The last thing I want to do is wish me, my family’s or my friends’ lives away. That is not the plan but right now it’s a tad hard not to make use of the one time teleport option I won at a, ’this is not a Doctor Who’ party many moons and a world away from where I am now.

Today or tomorrow or maybe New Year’s Eve, because Boris Johnson likes high day and holiday announcements (see Brexit agreement), the Astra Zeneca vaccine may be approved here in the UK. We have 100 million doses reserved for us. That’s 50 million people and they way I figure it, I’ll be in that 50 million. And I’ll be having the jab. Yes Sir, yes M’am, yes indeedy. So will Mr Carmichael. So will Carmichael offspring various as and when they get offered the dregs sometime this decade.

 Let’s hope it works.

Let’s hope it and all the other vaccines that are being developed, approved and injected into arms, before approval (yes Mr Putin although I noticed you didn’t have it on your doctor’s advice) and after approval, work too. It’s important they do. It’s important because right now, right here, it feels as if we are under attack. It feels different to the beginning; to the COVID launch; to March. Do you remember March? More importantly, do you remember pre March when we were just living our lives? Ha!

Right now, with COVID-19 and the two variant strains that we and South Africa have managed to breast feed, burp and nurture so well we, here in the UK, had 41,000 COVID cases registered yesterday. That’s 41,000 and that does not include people in hospital or care homes I believe. There are probably quite a few cases in these two types of establishment, don’t you think? The day before yesterday it was around 35,000. 35,000 which is a huge number of new cases but now doesn’t seem so huge because yesterday it was 41,000. 41,000 is huge but won’t seem so massive tomorrow I bet. Tomorrow, we’ll be wishing the number of new cases (that exclude care homes and hospitals) was 41,000. That’s my prediction. For what it’s worth. 

Most of these cases are in the South East of England. And the majority of these cases are the new mutant (just look into my eyes and I’ll give you COVID) strain. The South East of England is where I live. These things, put together are worrying. Very worrying indeed.

What is also worrying is that it’s got personal. I now know people suffering with COVID. I know many, many people isolating because they’ve been in contact with someone for more than fifteen minutes who has tested positive. These people, and this  includes Daughter Number Two who could not spend Christmas Day with us her family, are watching, on their smart phones, a ‘days left to go’ bullseye count down to their release.

 On release, they will be allowed to do very little. We, in the South East are in the newly imagined Tier 4 which is, in all but name, Lockdown. So, they will be able to go for a walk, buy a takeaway coffee, play golf or tennis at Queens and catch mutant COVID because they looked, for a nanosecond, into someone’s virused eye. Their phone will beep and they’ll be back in isolation. Or, of course, they may get sick. I may get sick. Did I mention I now know, and know of, many poorly people?

This is no way to live.

The government’s aim (yes you Matt Hancock of the foreskin pink ties) and you Boris Johnson (on recess but not in the Caribbean on a freebee this year) is to vaccinate one million people a week over the next Lockdown. 

“What?” You scream. “We’re not in a Lockdown. We can still go to the non essential shops and buy shit, we can mingle in houses and we can look people in the eye over a pint in the pub. We’re not in Tier 4. We’re the lucky ones.”

From all those in Tier 4 to all those not. Didn’t you see the boats, trains and stations the night our ‘leader’ and his pink oppo invented Tier 4? Those transporters were headed with eyes steely trained on you, traditional COVID carriers, to all parts not South East for Christmas. I fear you will bypass Tier 4 in the blink of a cough. And we, the already theres, will smile and say, “NOW, we’re all in it together.”

But back to the vaccination roll out. SAGE or some other acronym have warned today that unless you, the small g, government, pull your needles out and do two million a week we’re heading, without passing Go, straight into a third wave. You probably don’t know this Mr Johnson. It hasn’t come out in tomorrow’s paper yet. Buy a copy, why don’t you?

I’m a New Zealander. How many of you knew that? What I would give to be there now. A month ago, with fewer than 5000 cases a day, I could have gone, been popped into monitored isolation for a fortnight ( who’s kidding who? I’m as good as in it now and for the foreseeable just without the monitoring) and right now be as free as a bird with good eyesight, hugging people, going to friends’ homes, eating out, feeling safe and have Jacinda Ardern watching over me while I sleep COVID free. But no, now, not wanted anywhere in the world, I’m here in COVID Cactus Town and I can tell you, it’s one shit place to be.

Did I mention we had 41,000 new COVID cases yesterday in the UK? How many will it be today? Come on, roll up, place your bets.

Boot(y) Camp

You go girls!

Olives and Upwards

As I sit here, unable to walk, I reflect upon yesterday’s new experience: Boot Camp.


IMG_4914In September, one of my best friends is climbing Kilimanjaro. To raise money for her chosen charity, Practical Action, Gabs decided to organise a charity boot camp (or ‘booty camp’ as I prefer to call it- its just cuter and honestly, its the only part of me that doesn’t hurt, which brings me some happiness).

I can’t say that I was thrilled at the prospect.

Don’t get me wrong, as a dancer, I love being active and fit. However, I prefer to do so in a way where I don’t actually realise that I am exercising-  the lesser-known ‘indirectercise’.

So, when I dance, I’m focused on the music and performance. When I swim, I can pretend I’m on an exotic beach somewhere hot and fabulous. And during those long, romantic walks that I take, generally in the direction…

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The Graduate

Daughter #2 has started a ‘rest of my life’ blog. would love you to have a read and follow.

Olives and Upwards


Perhaps the name of this blog is slightly deceiving. Yesterday, at the University of Birmingham, I did not find a Mrs Robinson and fall simultaneously in love with her and her daughter. But I did graduate.


Ok again, potentially deceiving. My friend gave me back a ring that I had misplaced a couple of weeks ago. Why this exchange earned copious messages of excited congratulations is beyond me…

Even despite the disappointing lack of marriage proposals that I received, yesterday still turned out to be an amazing day.

gus and dad

I won’t give you a play by play of the actual ceremony, I couldn’t be so cruel. Instead, I’ll just give you a couple of my personal highlights:

1. The Vice-Chancellor’s pronunciation of my nameUnderstandably, if I saw the name ‘Augusta Melia’ for the first time in a room filled with hundreds of people (and it weren’t, of course, my name) I would probably…

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The Red Money Box

In the autumn of my ninth year I was invited to Flippy Calcoun’s birthday party. He was turning seven. Flippy’s parents were friends of my parents. We played together when our parents socialised, and in that environment, neither the age gap nor the fact he was a boy, mattered to me.

Two memories from that afternoon are scored, with Swiss army knife precision, onto my psyche. The first was a dress.

On receipt of the invitation, Mum sewed me a new outfit. Most avant- garde in the 60’s, it was made of a sylvan green checked fabric and buttoned right through. It had a large, floppy red bow tie that clipped the collar closed. Called a coat- dress, it respected my tomboy tendencies, and I liked it for that. I liked it until I got to the party.

“Shall I take your coat?” Flippy’s mother asked me.

Mortified, I said, “No,” and wore my ‘coat’ with only knickers and a vest beneath, for the remainder of the party. I eyed with hunger the grey shorts and sweaters that adorned the other party guests with such comfort and clarity of both design and purpose.

If she was the cause of a clothing disaster, Mum cannot be blamed for the second memory, forever hard-wired into my synapses. It came in the guise of a game. Decades before the advent of party bags, Family Calcoun had strung a rope across their living room. Dangling, were items wrapped in birthday and Christmas paper. They hung at varying heights and were very different sizes. It was, in effect, an aerial lucky dip.

Having fathomed the rubrics of blindfold and spin with alacrity, I pin- pointed the largest package, just left of centre and designated it mine. Swathed in red and gold Christmas paper, it beckoned me with power and gravitas.

“I shall be yours,” it carolled. “Come to me. Find a way.”

I found a way. Directly in line with my gift was a wooden handled armchair. I mind -paced the steps I would need to go directly forward from the arm closest to me. I memorised the parcels on either side of my prize, their girth and texture. I knew, even with the spin I could do this and emerge triumphant with the biggest and best result.

Two boys went before me, neither getting my present. I watched their stumbles. I watched the reveal: one, a Matchbox Ferrari and the other, an intricate padlock and key set. I would have liked either but knew, with increasing conviction, that the huge secret my heart was set on contained, nothing less than crown jewels and I, as the princess, deserved nothing less than that.

My turn came. I was spun and threw myself against the chair. With a steadying hand, I balanced and counted steps to the rope. Hands above head, I groped toward the bounty as others shouted helpful hints. I needed no help.

I felt tissue paper and knew I was one item right of my target. A step, a hand drawn down the dangling string and it was mine. Lighter than I expected I hesitated but, triumphant in the success of my plan, I pulled and it released. Removing the blindfold I breathed, satisfied. And unwrapped the treasure.

It was a plastic money box, nothing more nothing less. It was a red plastic money box: a money box for babies. Tears threatened. I swallowed hard. I would not cry.

I didn’t cry as others unwrapped, slug guns, playing cards, miniature Lego. In one of the smallest packages there were tickets to the Christmas Circus.

“Don’t be fooled by size,” I tell my daughters. “The best things often come in small packages.”

“Ahh, the money box,” they say, having heard my cautionary tale before. “ Mum’s on about the red, plastic money box again.”

flattering to deceive (
flattering to deceive (


Weekly Photo Challenge (Window)

On a road trip for one on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island a couple of years ago I stayed, quite by chance, in Rimu, one of  Hydrangea Cottages Punakaiki (photos 8, 14 and 15).

These Nikau Palms were the panoramic view from my lavatory window. What a lucky girl.

palms provide promised privacy (mrscarmichael)
palms provide promised privacy (mrscarmichael)

I am thrilled to see the cottages get a well deserved superb rating on trip advisor and I shall return for the Pancake Rocks, the Hydrangea Cottages and the views from all the windows.

Weekly Photo Challenge (One)

This one beautiful orange Vespa was parked by itself in a Soho street outside The Sun and Thirteen Cantons, a pub I spent many many hours in back in the day.

My first job in the UK was in the building next door.

orange solo (mrscarmichael)
orange solo (mrscarmichael)

I took this pic the other day, retracing steps with my girlfriend, K…….

Travel Theme (Height)

Y’all know I’m on my travels at the moment. From Nevada to the Californian coastline with a blissful stop in a personal favourite, Palm Springs.

I’m having a pool day today but it’s a tad caliente out doors at the moment so there’s just time for an on topic Where’s my backpack? post.

Yesterday Mr Carmichael and I hiked (go me using American-ease) 8000 odd feet up and around the San Jacinto mountains – fantastic. The views and the walk left me breathless in a number of ways.

But when it all comes down to it what can beat the large scale Marilyn statue in downtown Palm Springs?

oh and the mountain is (spookily) in the background (mrscarmichael)
oh and the mountain is (spookily) in the background (mrscarmichael)

I guessed she’d spent time in this fair burg but did not know she was actually discovered here #learningthroughtravel.

on a whim: tickled pink by antiques in lucketts

OMG, I was drawn by the pink silo and (having already forgotten your mannequin hint earlier due to a big Saturday night out hanging with Rod Stewart and at least a couple of glasses of sav blanc) imagine my shock and surprise to see my doppelganger dressed in pink, a particular favourite colour of mine after orange.

Thank you so much for the big up.

And I do need to get to that store although I must say it looks as if it has the potential to be a fire hazard – Christmas lights and synthetic fabric – wise.
If my finger landed on China once I would move my finger. Twice and I might just cut it off.

Hope you don’t mind if I reblog this post. I was about to steal the mannequin pics anyway.

nomad, interrupted

Saturday, September 21:  On this rainy Saturday, I am driving through Lucketts, Virginia on my way back from a road trip through Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, when I am surprised to see a pink silo with black polka dots.  I immediately think of Marianne’s CBBH Photo Challenge: Pink.  Lucketts is home to a number of antiques stores, one of which I featured in my post: the old lucketts store near leesburg.  I decide to pop in to this one, On A Whim, to check it out.  I find so much cuteness here, I’m tickled pink!

Now everything in this store isn’t pink, and there are quite a few other cute displays, which you can see by clicking on any of the pictures in the gallery below.

Right before I leave here, I come across a globe.  I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’d like to…

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Normal Service Will Resume……..

Mrs Carmichael has been buffed, spritzed and shined in readiness for her (and, not forgetting, Mr C’s) late summer sojourn to the north east of Mallorca. We leave early doors tomorrow. So early, in fact, that last minute airport shopping opportunities appear to be nil. The grills will still be down on Hermes, Louboutin, La Perla and the electrical shop that I really need because once again I do not seem to be able to find an adaptor. They are stockpiled somewhere in Casa Carmichael laughing at me.

Anyway, I will be drinking here tomorrow eve (if not before):

keep 'em coming, bar keep (mrscarmichael)
keep ’em coming, bar keep (mrscarmichael)

Here’s another view:

love, love (mrscarmichael)
love, love (mrscarmichael)

I shall be walking through these divine gates

Oh yes, indeedy (mrscarmichael)
Oh yes, indeedy (mrscarmichael)

many times over the next week and enjoying sunsets over them thar hills:

sunny delight (mrscarmichael)
sunny delight (mrscarmichael)

We will not be swimming in this excuse for a pool that we (me, Mr Carmichael, Gracie and Mr Gracie) were fooled into believing was a real sized pool by an over enthusiastic uber wide angle lens in the marketing propaganda.

can you actually see the pool? (mrscarmichael)
can you actually spot the pool? (mrscarmichael)

Do not get excited. That is not Mr Carmichael.

This was the outside area of a villa we rented for an extortionate price. Said villa purported to fit 8/10 people. Count the number of sun loungers. Doesn’t compute does it?

Anyway, we’ve learnt our lesson and by staying there found where we are resting our coiffed heads this year. So that has to count as a good thing. Si?

Hasta luego, mis amigos. I’m off to find my passport.

Cala Vincente, Mallorca (mrscarmichael)
Cala Vincente, Mallorca or Heaven? (mrscarmichael)