Friday, 19th June, 2020

[Day 95]

This morning we had rather a delayed daily routine. Reading my emails, the National Trust (of which we are members) have circulated us to inform us that their properties were now ‘semi-open’ i.e. although the historical houses still remain closed, the gardens are open as it so easy to ‘socially distance’ whilst walking around them. To facilitate this, you have to have a timed slot which must be booked in advance on the web. So I took a chance to see whether Coughton Court (which we have visited before) in Warwickshire was open. As it happened, we managed to get a timed slot in the afternoon of next Wednesday. Although some of the facilities are closed including the coffee shop/tea-rooms, a refreshment bar will be open as well as the rest of the grounds. So Meg and I are booked in which, naturally, will be our first ‘proper’ venture out of the house for nearly three months. Needless to say, we are looking forward to this and it will be interesting to see whether with timed entry and social distancing the whole experience might be even more enjoyable than in more normal times. Also, by next Wednesday, the weather should have improved considerably and we can stay until closing time, although I am sure a couple of hours will be enough. As National Trust members entrance is free in any case. I am hoping that they may have some interesting plants and shrubs for sale as National Trust properties (with a dedicated staff of gardeners) often run this as a sideline (but as the shop is closed, perhaps this facility will be unavailable as well) After I had made this booking, I decided to see what Waitrose had on offer and managed to get a slot for a week on Friday which I then populated from my ‘favourites’ selection – if I think of anything that we need before then, I can always amend the order which is quite an easy thing to do.

The coronavirus news today was interesting and quite encouraging. Firstly. the threat level has been dropped from 4 to 3 (or orange to yellow on a scale that from red to green) Of more use is the fact that the government is now able to publish the rate at which the infection is falling day by day and this seems to be in the range of 2%-4%. The latest indications are also that pubs and restaurants – as well as hairdressers and beauty parlours – are hoping to be given the green light to reopen on 4 July. Finally, there are broad hints given by Boris Johnson that he hopes that ‘all’ children will be back at school by September. I read an article in ‘The Times‘ which mirrors my own thoughts i.e. with a combination of social distancing reduced for children only from 2m to 1m, a morning and an afternoon shift and perhaps utilising some non-classroom space, that it might be quite possible to establish new routines that will help to provide a classroom experience for most pupils. A lot will depend on the extent to which schools have a degree of autonomy to work out the policies that will best fit that particular school.

We FaceTimed our friends this Friday, as we always due nowadays on Tuesdays and Fridays. We are assuming that their own more severe form of lockdown might be terminated by the end of July (if not before) so we have been excitedly thinking about the prospects of visiting a National Trust property (probably Coughton Court again) and also making a trip to Bletchley Park which they really enjoyed but we haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet. And, of course, in about a fortnight, it might be more clear whether ‘air bridges’ will have been established with several European countries including Spain so that we can start to think again about making a booking for late September (to see our friends in La Coruña)