After four months of strict lockdown, yesterday restrictions were lifted a little. We are now allowed to travel beyond the immediate locality without requiring a 'reasonable excuse'. It's a small freedom but a welcome one. We had planned to take the moho out for the day to Blithefield Resevoir. Although its only 40 miles away we have never visited it, so in a small way the trip does accord with our avowed aim of 'exploring new places'.
In the event a phone call from our son put the kibosh on the plan. Matthew has been isolated in a his flat in south London ever since his previous visit back in August. Due to a delay in the installation of new cabling he was now facing a week without an internet connection. This is not really an option if you are working from home. The solution, return to Buxton until the problem is fixed. To make the move as Covid safe as possible we drove down to London and picked him up, a round trip of 400 miles.
Having spent months driving no further than the local Morrisons or the car park at Hurdlow on the Tissington trail, a ten hour drive came as a shock. Even when we resume our wandering life I am not going to make a habit of it.
Our next milestone comes on April 12th when we will be able to use campsites again. Although I am not a big fan of the Motorhome and Caravan Club sites, in the current situation they do have some advantages. The culture of over-management which is infuriating in normal times has advantages in peculiar ones. You can be sure that deep-cleaning regimes will be adhered and social distancing strictly imposed by their terrifying wardens. Also the on-line booking app allows you to check on availability months ahead. If you do try to plan a trip it soon becomes clear that popular spots are filling up fast; everyone wants to take that long anticipated short break.
So, until travel in Europe becomes possible. and who knows when that will be, I think we are going to content ourselves with drumming-up enthusiasm for the mundane delights closer to home. Mid April we are heading to North Devon, then a month later staying in Hampshire so we can spend time with our youngest, Laura who we have not seen since last August. Early June we are joining everyone else and visiting Cornwall. Rick Stein's TV series about the place in January was a big hit, I think the place is going to be packed.
At least we have something to look forward to, I think the current lockdown has been more challenging psychologically than the first. A year ago it was scary, the pandemic a disturbing and novel experience for all of us, but in a sense its peculiarity also made it intriguing. The privations of the last three months by comparison have had a mundane familiarity, it's been less disturbing but more attritional. In particular the way time passes has seemed very strange. Because one day has been just like another moments congeal like treacle, or perhaps more accurately like an invisible quicksand that absorbs us. But if moments have passed painfully slowly, months have simply disappeared in no time at all. People suffering from long Covid speak of suffering 'brain fog, but many of us untouched by the virus seem to have become 'fogged' in sympathy. My brain has felt mushy, too unsettled to read a book or concentrate on a film. Also, I have become lost for words, which in truth is probably a relief to those around me, but when I try to say something I find the simplest of words elude me, particularly the names of things or concept words. It's very annoying, I hope when life returns to normal my mind will become sharper, that the brain-mush is temporary and not age related.
What has kept us sane over the past year has been the work associated with our extension - the building work itself last summer..
We managed a month long trip to Tuscany in early autumn, now that seems little short of miraculous, or very foolhardy as our daughter and her partner keep telling us. As soon as we got back I occupied myself during November re-laying the side patio,
.. then built a deck outside the new bifolds.
Over the winter, as and when the weather allowed re-modelling the area behind the garage became my occupational therapy. It was a tough job involving lifting and re-laying twenty 2' x 3' concrete slabs then excavating the garden next to them to create a new 'utility area' with some raised beds. I have a plan to grow some summer veg, maybe its foolish given the altitude, but using small poly-tunnels might work. After weeks of working on and off on it I am within a couple of days of finishing the job.
By the time I've finished it mid April beckons and we have a short break to North Devon to look forward to. Maybe then life will begin to feel a little more normal. I never thought I would end up craving the mundane, but I do.