“This is World History in the Making”
Tuesday, 24th March 2020: “This is world history in the making…” – a member of my extended family, talking about the three week lock-down in the UK due to Corona-virus said today on our family WhatsApp chat, and I have to agree with her.
I live with my husband in Surrey, close to the Hampshire and Berkshire borders. This morning, almost the first thing we noticed was no hum of traffic from the nearby M3 motorway. Normally it a background noise that we often don’t even notice except when we return from holiday or a weekend away. Now its absence is almost disconcerting! And we have not seen a single plane (we are under the Heathrow flight path) in the sky all day.
Realising that I would most likely not be going to work for three weeks (I work in the accounts department of a local independent garden centre) I felt almost (but not quite) as if I was on holiday…. but after speaking to my manager, who confirmed that myself and most of my colleagues are on three week’s retention pay as from today, as per the government scheme, and that it might be for even longer if the government decrees it, I felt rather subdued. I hope my manager and all my colleagues stay well, but it may be a forlorn hope to think that of the 650 people employed across the company’s stores, everyone will make it. I can only hope they do.
We have found ourselves spurred into activity today – the weather is so beautiful and it feels almost sinful not to make the most of it and our own good health (long may both continue). My husband has finally got around to making a start on the lawn drainage channel in our back garden, which he has wanted to do for weeks. The robin will be happy!
Why a drainage channel? Well as all my UK followers will know, the weather in the UK has been abysmal for most of the year so far – storms/gales every weekend (well, it seemed like it), torrential rain… thankfully we had it a lot better than many, and our most worrying moment was after the last storm, when the local drainage system couldn’t cope and water was threatening to back up into the loo in our downstairs shower room… thankfully it didn’t – the water board came out and told us that the underground storage tanks were struggling, that it would eventually subside but to call them out if it didn’t. We have a pipe running through our property and when my husband lifted the drain cover he said the water was barely a foot from the top… it sounded very alarming in the downstairs shower room, lots of ‘gloop-gloop’ noises. We were advised to use the upstairs bathroom and to flush as little as possible… which we did, and thankfully after a couple of days it did subside. But the lawn and part of our patio area was under two inches of water for days. We had to change the feeding place for the local birds, but we didn’t see much of them, as it was so wet and the seed just got waterlogged and eventually floated away… the local pigeons, magpies, crows, robins and blue-tits must have gone rather hungry for a few days.
I kept myself busy today by breaking down the cardboard boxes we had accumulated from Amazon, and putting them in our recycling bin for the next collection. We also had a delivery of some canes (for runner beans) and three planters; we’re going to grow our own potatoes, runner beans, parsnips and carrots. My grandfather (who ran a pharmacy in my home town of Aldershot when I was a child) used to have a vegetable garden, with glass ‘cold frames’ which he tended all year around I think. My In-Laws used to grow runner beans and potatoes, and my parents used to have blackcurrant bushes in the garden. I grew strawberries for a few years before I left home, but that was about it! Our own vegetable garden is something we’ve been planning for a while, since we have space for it here, but we had never quite got around to doing anything about it. So with three weeks to get everything under way, I decided that Today would be The Day… except we’re waiting for the seeds and the compost to arrive. I’m hoping they will be with us by the end of this week. Obviously we won’t benefit in the very near future (and probably not during this lock-down… unless it goes on for a very long time….) but in a few months time we should have some runner beans and potatoes, and later on carrots and parsnips. Oh and spring onions/salad onions (scallions to my transatlantic friends!) I’m thinking about tomatoes too, and strawberries… it’s good to have something else to think about than the mounting death toll and whether we will be able to find any food in the shops when our cupboards start to look empty…
That’s it for today. Stay safe, everyone.