Thursday, 9th April, 2020

[Day 24]

Another quite interesting day. Before we enjoyed our daily walk in the park, the BioDisk maintenance company turned up and found that everything was in good working order (and it had been emptied only the day before). However, it was mentioned to us (and we had received the same message the day before) that they had noticed that in the last week or so such communal facilities had come increasing pressure as people were working from home, thus creating demands on the system. I think a note to fellow residents might well be called for, and we may have to increase the number of ’empties’ in a typical year.

As we have come to expect, we enjoyed another fine day in the park and were pleased to meet one of our Waitrose friends there, so we had a good chat. Also, we observed some 5-6 ducklings that looked very young and we surmised that they might be part of a newly hatched brood. One of the regular dog walkers in the park who had evidently kept a keen eye on things wondered whether the local heron, easily identified as it has one club foot(!) might have been responsible for the predation of duckings in the past. He told us that when the park pond was emptied for maintenance a few years ago, it was discovered to be teaming with perch fish. As we were on our way out of the park, we were approached by a volunteer in a hi-viz vest who thought that we might have been tarrying over our coffee somewhat too long on the park bench and potentially providing a bad example. to others. We explained that we understood that Michael Gove had explicitly stated that individuals (related to each other) could legitimately sit on a park bench during exercise – the exchanges were good-natured and I am sure the volunteer was acting according to his best lights. Just out of interest, I undertook some Google searches and found the following advice from the Director of Public Health for Gloucestershire published two days ago on 7th April. I reproduce the relevant bits below…

“Park benches are a really important part of our community because if you are a bit older or frail they are quite helpful to give you a rest when you are on your daily exercise route, and we’ve had a question about whether people can sit on benches together…..

We have had messages with some places closing their benches, putting tape across them. There is nothing wrong with having a park bench, if you are a members of the same family you can sit on the bench together, but if you’re not you have to keep two metre distance.

“This means if the bench is on its own, one person sits on the bench, one person has to stand two metres away.

We spent some time in the afternoon doing a communal shredding – this was quite satisfying but our garden shredder is a little ‘picky’ about the width of twigs that it will accept but after a bit of sorting, we overcame that problem and added the shreddings to our compost bin. Fortunately, I discovered in some of my ‘outside’ garden things that I keep under the eaves of the house some concentrated organic composting accelerator (although, as we all know, all men are very good at producing their own on a daily basis, preferably after some good long drinks of tea or beer). Then we started the long hunt within the house for ‘the bell’. This is quite a long story – when we had a really long (100 yd +) vegetable garden in Leicestershire, my wife needed something to summon me to the house when I was working at the bottom of the garden. And so when we were on holiday on the Norfolk Broads one year we discovered a ship’s bell in a boat-keepers chandlery and hence we acquired the bell which we screwed onto some French doors that opened out into the garden. We haven’t had a use for it in the last 34 years but we really needed it tonight. Why? you might ask. Well, it was to add to the clapping, car hooting, saucepan banging and other celebrations that we engage upon to show our appreciation for NHS workers and several others which is now a tradition at 8.00 pm each Thursday evening. We played our part – but our son who was operating the bell was soon ‘clapped out’ i.e. the clapper fell out of the bell within a few seconds and had to be re-attached.