Coronavirus week 20 - 2 to 9 August
Well here, rather extraordinarily, is a week with lots of post coronavirus firsts in it! Some restrictions have been eased and while new cases have risen, both here and in England, there has as yet been no increase in hospital admissions and only small numbers of new deaths. Many of the new cases seem to be in younger people so it is possible that, however unpleasant the virus may be, young people are not as badly affected as the over fifties and that might account for a different profile in the new cases.
So this week had three new experiences for me since the onset of lockdown: first of all on Tuesday I went to see the hygienist at the dentist for the first time since January. This was quite a strange feeling. I had been asked to wear a mask and to wait outside the dental surgery when I arrived. A young dental nurse, gowned and wearing a visor, came out to take my temperature and ask a variety of questions to establish whether I might be suffering from the virus. Having done that she took me swiftly through the empty waiting room straight into the treatment room. Here the hygienist and her assistant were similarly gowned but this time wearing both visors and facemasks. As I had expected, I had let my cleaning regime go a bit so it was good to be reminded, to buy some new dental brushes and to come away full of determination to do a better job! I felt quite comfortable and impressed by the thoroughness with which new protocols were being followed. So far, so good.
On Wednesday lunchtime we went out for our first post covid 19 restaurant meal to Bryn Williams' restaurant at Porth Eirias. Again that was a relaxed and pleasant experience. The staff were masked and the tables widely spaced. I know the hospitality business has been hit very hard by the coronavirus restrictions and you could see how hard it is going to be to achieve the footfall necessary to keep profits up and businesses going but there was no hint of strain in the cheerful, welcoming and relaxed demeanour of the waiting staff, all saying how pleased they were to be back at work. The food was delicious as always. I don't want to be squashed inside a busy pub at the moment or crammed up against all of humanity on an underground train but a leisurely lunch in a spacious restaurant looking out across the sea felt really good.
Friday saw a visit from our older daughter and her family for the day. That was the longest time we had spent together for months. It was a glorious hot and sunny day. We lunched outside under the yew tree and later had a barbecue before they headed home. Emma and I always talk a lot on facetime and we had kept that up over the lockdown period but it was so good just to wander the garden and chat, to smile at the two year old climbing in and out of the paddling pool, to watch the ten year old carefully carving his initials into the tree, supervised by grandpa. Almost it could have been any summer day.
And on Saturday, for the first time since early March, I went to the hairdresser's! It was surprisingly like the dentist visit in terms of protocols, with the same checks at the door and the stylists' chairs widely spaced and separated by perspex screens. I have lots of friends for whom a visit to the hairdresser is a treat, a bit of personal, pampering time. I have never felt like that about it. For me it is a necessary, functional thing, in the interests of tidiness and personal grooming. I don't dislike it in any way but I generally feel pretty neutral. But on Saturday to my surprise I really enjoyed it. It was good to chat to my lovely stylist and to hear how she and her family had been over lockdown. It was a reminder of the importance of those connections we have which are not the deep and close ones of family and very close friends. They may not be intimate connections but they are still important. They are part of the network of those we know which anchors us in our community and help us to feel that we belong. And it was great to come out with trimmed and shiny, swingy hair!
And yesterday we met up with our older son and his family. We are no longer allowed to visit them at home because they live in Greater Manchester which currently has reimposed restrictions. But they are allowed to travel out of their area so we met in a country park for a socially distanced picnic. It was great to hear about their holiday in the Isle of Wight and to feel in touch again.
And tomorrow younger daughter and her family are visiting. We had a long chat with younger son, just returned from France and relieved not to need to quarantine as he would have had to if the family had been to Spain. He and his family are coming up to see us soon for a few days. So there are lots of those lovely family interactions right now and in the offing.
As a result I feel happily in touch with the world again, both my personal world of children and grandchildren and the wider world of restaurants and hairdressers. Through the window the valley is dreaming quietly in the warm sun. All is well in my world today. How is it in yours?