Saturday, 25th July, 2020

[Day 131]

According to the weather forecast, a heavy band of rain was due to sweep across the Midlands mid-morning and so it proved. We waited until this pulse of rain had passed overhead and done its worst before we set off on our daily walk and although the morning as a whole was still extremely cloudy, at least we didn’t get rained upon. As you might expect, there were very few people in the park today apart from a few intrepid dog-walkers but we did run into some of our oldest friends from down the road, with whom we exchanged a few stories and jokes. They were off on their daily walk as well but I imagine they are well used to the rain by now. Once in the park, I deployed our National Trust portable stool as a kind of mini-table. Why I hadn’t thought of doing this a long time ago, I will never know but it made life a lot simpler (as I have to juggle hat, rucksack, coffee flask, biscuit container etc.) Once we got home, avoiding any showers, we consumed our Saturday lunch-time treat (some really high-quality sausages from Waitrose) and then I set forth to our local garden centre in order to buy some bags of topsoil. I acquired 4 bags at the price of £3.99 each and, out of interest, I looked for the price of the same on the web where you would pay three times this price. (I remember being caught this way before when I ordered a bulk of forest bark from a local supplier only to discover I could have bought the same considerably cheaper and in easier to manipulate 80-litre sacks from my local Asda store) When the weather improves the £65.00 worth of bulbs I acquired for a fiver will be planted out in some rectangular plant pots of which I have a stock and then arrange them strategically around the patio area for a splash of late summer colour.

This afternoon my order for simple face visors arrived for both Meg and myself. These are very simple arrangements and come with several replacement face visors and cost only a few pounds each – they are as simple to don as would be a pair of glasses and will actually fit on over your own glasses. It is unclear whether these constitute ‘face coverings’ within the letter of the relevant law and their effectiveness is as yet, untested – however, one Swiss study found that the wearers of face visors in a Swiss hotel become infected whereas the wearers of face masks did not, Like many things in the current crisis, one has to use a certain amount of one’s own discretion in all of this.

The big political story tonight is the fact that the coronavirus seems to be rearing its head again in various parts of Spain and particularly around Barcelona. The British government has now changed its travel advice for visitors to Spain which means that returning holidaymakers returning from Spain will now have to self-isolate for 15 days. In an ironic twist, this might even apply to Grant Shaps, the transport minister, who is reportedly on holiday in Spain. This will be a massive blow to the Spanish tourist industry as I suspect, many people who had intended a quick holiday break in Spain (including ourselves) will now decide not to bother.

Today, various facilities such as swimming pools and gyms, are now free to offer their services to the public, all with suitable precautions. However, many local authorities are thinking twice about opening up their facilities at all. If the facilities had not been well maintained in the years of austerity, then it might not be economic to re-open them again if this entails considerable investment. So it looks as though a fair proportion of these facilities (a bit like restaurants on the high street) will never open again which has all kinds of implications e.g. for teaching young people how to swim which is a critical life skill upon which their life might depend at some time in the future. As with so many areas of social life, we will shortly discover how many local businesses and services have actually managed to survive.