All the fun of the fair!



Two unusual and exciting things have happened to me this week.

The first thing that happened was my self-catering holiday. You are allowed that in the new COVID easing of rules. However, everyone must have had the same idea because there were queues on the motorway over to the seaside.

People who have been shielding can go out now, but we must take extra care. I did not go in the shops or walk on the prom or even go on the temptingly sandy beach. I did not stand in the fish and chip queue, where people spread out, leaning against the wall prodding their mobiles, until it was their turn. I did not sit outside the unisex hairdressers on jaunty red plastic seats alongside the people, with unruly hair, hoping for miracles. My hair is still waiting for that transformation after the cruel cut of the kitchen scissors. I did not join queues here.

Instead, I watched the fun fair with its blow-up bouncy castle and jolly roundabouts hoping to tempt ‘treat starved’ children. And I went on a cliff top walk. The first in over a year.

I wore my mask even though I was outside. I saw people going along the well-worn track, we were all off to see the seabirds nesting on the rocky cliff ledges. I gazed at the white and black gannets with eyes as blue as the sky. They flew over the sea, keeping together in arrow lines, to their precarious nests of seaweed. I heard the screaming gulls and smelt the fishy smell of their busy lives.

But just as my mask was misting up my glasses, in the evening light, I saw a white shadow over the fields. It was a barn owl hawking for food. I wanted to watch this mysterious bird. Finally, I took my mask off, we were in the open after all and no one was nearby. I was just in time to see the owl clearly, with its own mask-like face, swooping west into the evening sun.

On our way back we saw people sitting outside pubs at picnic tables, their coats zipped and hoods up. Not ideal, but they looked to be enjoying themselves all the same. There were lights on in socially distanced caravans occupied for the first time in three months.

I came back after a few days because I had an important appointment and that was my second exciting event. My follow-up jab.

This was the day I had been waiting for in a virtual vaccination queue for three months. Hand gel, mask on and then straight to the cubicle for my injection – and perhaps more freedom?

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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