In a changing world

Gulls social distancing

I know now how sleeping beauty must have felt after her 100 years asleep. An evil fairy did it to her but in my case, it is the dread of COVID19. She was woken up by the kiss of a handsome prince, but my awakening was instigated by the vaccine, which does not seem fair at all. In any case, it had the same effect so that I can wander out again (with restrictions).

The world has changed since I last saw it. There is no going back to the old days. Everything has moved on. I am venturing out after over a year, and I am a stranger in the once familiar streets.

My first outing to a shop was to get my copy of The Shropshire Star. I wore my mask and my glasses steamed up, so I did not realise that all assistants are now protected by a Perspex screen – I reached out and crashed my hand into it. I was glad that it was there, but it is new to me.

On holiday, in a little sea-side town, my favourite fish and chip shop has closed as has the little tea shop next door. Instead, there was an ice cream van and an open-air trinkets stall. The pub has changed into a set of flats and there are huge signs in fields nearby advertising newly built holiday homes.

The farmer, with land on the edge of the cliffs, has decided to charge for parking in a strictly business-like way. Who can blame him in the circumstances? But instead of the honesty box there are security cameras and a pay machine. The freedom of popping down the clay cliff to watch the sand martins is restricted now.

Then in the woodlands I noticed that ash die back disease has taken hold and many splendid specimens were not coming into leaf and branches were dead and dying.

However, some things have stayed the same. The sea with its endless crashing against the sand and rocks is still relentless. The birds are still there too. All clambering for space on the ledges. There are gannets, guillemots and of course the bird we all look out for on these cliffs. This is the bird that everyone asks you if you have seen. The puffins feeding their young are still the star attraction. The pair I watched were nesting in an old rabbit burrow. They only lay one egg so there is only one nestling waiting for its parents to bring sand eels in their red and yellow striped beaks.

As I left, I heard a skylark singing, high above us all, with eyes only for its nest in the dry grass below. 

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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