Week 9. We are told that we are facing a new world. Yet all around us, people are out and about, busily trying to recreate the old one. It feels as if the Government has no control, or more likely, no wish to impose control. Road traffic is increasing, seaside places like ours are thronged, and soon, the skies will be full of aircraft again. This week, Battleaxe takes a break from autobiographical meanderings and looks back on what has been good (for her) about Coronatime, what has been less good, and what the future might hold.
Yes, I know, I really, really do know how lucky me and Philosopher are in terms of where we live, our living circumstances, and the fact we are ‘active retired’ with plenty of interests and good health. The anxiety and anger I feel is often about the uncaring ignorance of our current government in regard to the conditions faced by so many others. This week I read that ‘experts’ have pronouced that poor children are doing much less home learning than better off ones. Really? Who knew? And what about those poor devils in care homes? Oh stop ranting and get back to the point.
For most of the last nine weeks we have had glorious weather. Day after day here in Hastings we wake up to cloudless blue skies, and the sun shining on the Mediterranean blue sea. It’s all made still clearer and bluer by the lack of pollution. It’s a struggle to keep the garden watered but that’s another story. Our memories of Lockdown will mostly be sunny. Blue skies, sparkling sea, fresh air, birdsong and flowers.
Countless people have written about the joys of discovering/rediscovering nature in the last few weeks, and I won’t go over that again. I have posted before about it. But it is true – the flowers have seemed brighter and more abundant, the birds birdier, the views more photogenic and far-reaching. Going for a walk every day, we have the time to notice it all, and observe how nature changes over the weeks. We have discovered new walks which we will be able to revisit in the future, particularly in the Country Park.
We’ve also been further afield to walk round Pett, Guestling Woods, Winchelsea, and even driven to Rye Harbour. One slight problem is lack of access to toilets – how do people manage who follow the bonkers government ‘guidance’ and drive as far as they like?
I hope we will keep up our walking after Coronatime ends, and we have both got fitter, but I know other things will intervene. Also, my fantasy best walks involve a stop-off at a pub, or for coffee and cake in a cafe. Little can beat, in my view, settling down in a pub garden with a cold lager after an energetic walk. Pubs in the evenngs? Nah, don’t miss those crowded, noisy bars – but we did enjoy our fortnightly quizzes down at the Stag in the Old Town…
Our garden, too, has rewarded our efforts, and every day I have spent time on it, and/or have been sitting in it… We have been out to the Hastings Garden Centre which is now open – that was very exciting. I bought a rose, but excavating the bone-dry clay to dig a planting hole was a killer. There used to be a brick-field near where our house stands – am not surprised.
What else has been positive? Discovering local shops, like our little greengrocer in Ore Village. We will continue to use the shop in the future – the fresh eggs are particularly good. After the joy of our one supermarket delivery from Waitrose, back at the start of April, we have been unable to get any more on-line deliveries – we are not vulnerable enough. We might treat ourselves to the odd Waitrose delivery when this is over, but in fact we don’t mind trips to the supermarkets – Sainsburys, our big local M & S food hall, and Aldi.
We have been eating (and drinking) unsuitably well throughout the nine weeks. Shortages? What shortages? Not round here. As I mentioned weeks ago, for the first time in my life I have suddenly discovered how to bake cakes. Have moved on from banana bread to apple cake, and most recently, a classic Victoria Sponge. The WI baking supremos would have been delighted to see that sponge – well-risen, light, even. I can’t believe all my efforts will be as successful, but so far, so very good. I tend to do it on Sunday evenings, and we devour large chunks of the results, warm from the oven, for our tea. Again, I don’t know whether I will continue in the future, because I find the baking malarky only fleetingly interesting, but it is a surprise to discover that I can not only do it, but – touch wood – seem to be able to do it well.
Another thing we have discovered is the joy of getting meals delivered to the house. I now have Just Eat and Deliveroo on my phone, and most Friday nights we enjoy freshly cooked fish and chips from the chippie in Ore Village – straight out of the fryer onto our plates in a few minutes. We’ve also had Chinese. Yes, of course we miss being able to eat out, but to be honest, not that much… Eating out for us was most often combined with trips and outings to places of interest, galleries, gardens etc., which we certainly do miss. It is sad being unable to jump on the train for days out in London, with the opportunities to see friends and family.
I do miss being able to cruise the shops. At first I sucked my teeth at on-line shopping, thinking of the risks to the delivery drivers, but soon lapsed. We have bought a new big rug for the living room, and bonkers things like batches of mosaic tiles. Philosopher is making a Mughal arch design mosaic for the Indian Retreat I am creating outside. At least, it is supposed to be Indian, but when Philosopher saw my new coloured solar lights hanging from the pergola he said it looked like a Greek taverna. I can’t now unsee Spiros on his way with the souvlaki… Here is one of our all-time favourites, the taverna at Aghia Jerusalem near Fiscardo in Kefalonia. Why aren’t we there now? Will we ever be able to visit such places again?
Family and friends? We miss not seeing them. However, the talk of hugging grandchildren passes us by – our one grandchild is not a huggy person. To be honest, Battleaxe is not a very huggy person either. I’ll embrace close friends and family, but social kissing? Never liked it. Kissing is for one’s nearest and dearest only. I’d be happy not to have to ever kiss any more random aquaintances.
However, confession time – this week we have started seeing local friends for socially-distanced drinks in the back garden. Strict rules have been maintained – they have bought their own glasses etc. What was that loony rule about only meeting one person? Has anyone obeyed that? I doubt it.
I do miss WI gatherings, and of course, my poetry group. The Hastings Stanza has started meeting on-line via Zoom, but I have not joined in yet. For some reason I have not written any poems in the last nine weeks – I don’t know why. I am sure it will come back and am trying not to worry about it. Battleaxe doesn’t like Zoom. Have used it plenty but it seems very artificial and stilted. Have also got various WhatsApp groups on the go. It is easy to waste time looking at the apparently inexhaustable stream of memes and video clips in circulation – cats, dogs, babies, chickens, Boris Johnson…
I don’t know when we’ll be able to go to Birmingham… We saw some Brummy friends in Cornwall back in March – the last ‘normal’ days, but have not seen the rest since Christmas. We normally have grand daughter for a week at Easter, and again in the summer…
As I mentioned last week, a big downside is holidays. Both of us feel specially bad about Turkey. Cirali feels like our second home.
I have taken the risk of booking a UK break in October – going to Essex and Suffolk. I tell you now, I will be more than livid if the fools who are lurching about in the sun down on the beach as I write cause an increase in infections, and we won’t be able to go… Would you believe its is another bank holiday this weekend – we have only just had one for VE Day. Yet more opportunity for idiots to squash themselves together down here.
Philosopher and I run no risk of getting bored, in fact time flashes past. We both have so many potential projects it is hard to know where to start – and some of them don’t get started. Both of us are quite content with our own company, and we are quite self-sufficient. One thing I enjoy about Coronatime is the chance to be alone without having to make excuses, feel guilty or worry about missing out on something… You may wonder that the apparently sociable Battleaxe says this, but it is true…
So, is Coronatime ending? Who knows. I suppose this is the worst of this for me, the constant state of not knowing what is ahead. Some writers think this is the begiining of the End Of Days – read this if you want to cheer yourself up, others think we will ‘bounce back’, others think we’ll be riding electric bikes along pop-up cycle lanes, eating from foodbanks and never flying anywhere again without four hours going through security at the airport but nobody knows…
Here, to finish, is evening in Cirali. We would have been there in a couple of weeks. I have said to Derya, who keeps our accommodation, that we will be back next year, but will we? And another thing – we were going out by Turkish Airlines and home via Easyjet. Neither airline will even communicate with me until the beginning of June about getting the bloody flight money back….