Coronavirus week 21 - 9 to 16 August
This week we went away, yes that's right, away from home! We went to stay for a couple of nights in The Bull Inn in Sedbergh with some friends.
It felt odd to pack a bag, to decide to take my new tapestry crochet bag for my ipad and chargers, to think about something to wear which was not jeans or leggings with tops and t shirts. Part of me was pleased at the prospect of change and part of me did not want to go and leave our quiet, peaceful hideaway.
Away we went, over the border into England. On the M6 the traffic was as heavy as usual. New cases of the virus are continuing to track at around 1000 a day but deaths and hospital admissions have fallen considerably from the peak. Certainly out on the roads there was none of that sense of the country having gone into hibernation which was apparent even a few weeks ago. The world was busy and on the move.
Sedbergh is both on the very western edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and just in Cumbria, a small town with bookshops and cafes, tucked under the flanks of the Howgills. It is quieter than many of the popular parts of the Lake District but busy enough to spend a day pottering quietly in and out of bookshops, a good choice for the first foray into the outside world which was not simply to do with family.
One of the first things I noticed was the prevalence of facemasks. England requires the wearing of masks in shops now, which is not yet the case in Wales. I wear one when I go supermarket shopping but probably only around a third of the people in the shop are doing the same. I was asked to wear a mask for my dentist and my hairdresser appointments last week and in Wales you will see people out and about with a mask on but here I would say that social distancing is more prevalent than mask wearing. In Sedbergh though, where admittedly both the local population and the visitors are probably toward the older end of the age range and so perhaps likely to be more careful, there were masks aplenty.
It was very hot, over thirty degrees. The little town baked in the sunshine and we had that sensation that I associate with holidays in France, Italy and Spain of seeking the shade, crossing the road to find the welcome shade of a house, sitting down on a bench with a cup of coffee but having to move out of the fierce heat of the sun. That is not an experience that happens very often in the North of England!
The food was great in the hotel. We had a drive over to Barnard Castle (no sign of Dominic Cummings!) and a longer walk on Friday morning. It felt like dipping your toe in the water and was on the whole a good experience.
While we were away the government announced the imposition of a fourteen day quarantine period on people returning from France. The likelihood of this had been flagged for around three weeks, since the same rules were imposed on people coming into the country from Spain, so I was not particularly sympathetic to some of those interviewed on television expressing outrage at the lack of warning! A level results were also announced on Thursday. There is considerable controversy about the way in which teachers' predictions as to likely grades for their students have been moderated down. I am sure there are some individual cases of real injustice but on a macro level even after this moderation there are still considerably more A and A star grades than was the case last year. I am glad it is no part of my responsibility to have to deal with the difficulties of all of that. More students than ever from the UK are off to university in the autumn, with employment prospects poor and gap year travel off the table for the moment. I wonder what the experience will be like for them in these changed times. I hope it is still a good one!
Did you have any travel plans for this summer? How are you feeling about the whole idea of travel right now?