Now that we are in a strange interlude between the crisis and recovery, I have been looking at what it has all meant for local activities in my area. Some activities have thrived, some stalled and some continue exactly as before. Since we can get out and talk to people the impact is becoming clearer.
The thrivers are surprising; I hesitated before emailing a local picture framer to ask if I could collect two lovely prints that he had framed for me in March. His workshop was heaving with parcels and he said that he had never been so busy. Equally and unsurprisingly two local garden centres were trying to cope with pent up demand. “I have got rid of 84 pallets of compost” one said “and I am waiting for deliveries of almost everything from the shop”. An enterprising lady has launched a small fresh vegetable stall beside her garage under a simple pop up tent; it was busy on a self help basis and unmanned and she trusts one to put the money through her letterbox.
I would classify the local hospital and our local surgery as thrivers since their non-Covid service is much faster than before due to a total change in the procedures. Telephone calls are answered almost at once and many actions delegated to specialist nurses, who follow up by phone; our last involvement required us to text a photo of a damaged ankle prior to a strange inspection in the car outside the surgery later that day. My son had a nasty accident to a finger requiring a visit to an A&E (almost empty), a follow up by a consultant (the following day) and an operation (the day after).
The local livery stables that I mentioned in an earlier post is stalling a little, since some owners are unemployed and can no longer afford to keep their horses, while others have time on their hands and come in to do things that in other times they would have asked the livery staff to do. Finally, by a sad coincidence there is a case of suspected strangles which means that no movements of horses are allowed outside the livery grounds.
For most outdoor workers there has been little change because of the virus. The farmers have other worries. The dire drought over the last 9 weeks (until last night – see David Maughan Brown) is causing them great anxiety. Two very large potato fields (of about 200 acres) have only a few small green shoots poking above the neat ridges. The farmer has over 600 acres of potatoes in total and is struggling to provide irrigation facilities in areas that are remote from streams and dykes. Few fields were able to be planted because of the winter floods, so spring planting has been completed later than usual, but the crop’s growth is badly hit by the drought and causing much anxiety (but then farmers are perennially unhappy). The graziers are less worried; most of their large grass flood plain was under water for over a month earlier in the year so it will have benefitted from deposits of nutrient rich silt.