A Travellerspoint blog

United Kingdom

UK Summer in Lockdown

In and Around Hove

sunny 23 °C

JUNE/JULY/AUGUST 2020

As June progressed and the number of UK cases began to fall, the Coronavirus restrictions began to be eased. The first noticeable change happened mid-month with the opening of non essential shops. This was followed in early July by the re-opening of restaurants, pubs, hotels, guest houses, camp sites, hairdressers, etc, but all with strict social distancing and hygiene rules in force. Social distancing now had been reduced to one meter +. The question was: “what does the government mean by one meter + ?” This was never answered and the public were left to make up their own minds.

The other three nations (Scotland, Wales & Northern Island) took a more cautious approach allowing an extra few weeks to pass before they followed suit. Their governments also provided a much clearer set of rules regarding the loosening of restrictions. In fact, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, was handling the Covid-19 outbreak far better than her counterpart in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In fact, it seemed that what ever Nicola did Boris would follow. A good example of this was when Boris and his team said the wearing of face coverings in shops was voluntary. Then, when Scotland made it mandatory, Boris changed his mind and England did the same.

By mid July we finally got the notification we were expecting: our flight to Canada had been cancelled. This, of course, meant that our three month trip to Canada and USA was off. What followed was the exercise of cancelling all our North American accommodation and transportation bookings and seeking refunds for the money we had paid. This kept us busy for some while.

With no trip to North America to look forward to, we had to decide what to do instead. We debated whether to visit Europe. As with the UK Covid-19 seemed to be under control and flights were now available to many destinations. However, there were still isolated outbreaks and local lockdowns occurring, so we thought it would be better to remain in England for a few more months. Having made that decision we started planning a UK road trip to run from the end of August to the end of October.

In the meantime we kept ourselves busy by going for local walks as frequently as possible. This reminded us just how much natural beauty we have on our doorstep.
But it wasn’t all leisure, we still had our cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring duties to take care of, albeit a small price to pay for Rob’s generosity during this Covid-19 period.

Kneep Castle

Kneep Castle

Knepp Castle Grounds

Knepp Castle Grounds

Knepp Castle Estate

Knepp Castle Estate

Red Deer at Knepp Castle Estate

Red Deer at Knepp Castle Estate

Knepp Castle Estate

Knepp Castle Estate

Willow tree in Sheffield Park

Willow tree in Sheffield Park

Family of ducks at Sheffield Park

Family of ducks at Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park

Sussex Downs

Sussex Downs

Sussex Downs

Sussex Downs

Old telephone Box now a Telepoem box

Old telephone Box now a Telepoem box

Lockdown Poem in an old telephone box

Lockdown Poem in an old telephone box

River Arun

River Arun

Bridge over the river Arun near Greatham

Bridge over the river Arun near Greatham

Footpath going through corn field

Footpath going through corn field

Thatch cottage in Sussex

Thatch cottage in Sussex

One memorable walk was on a day out to Runnymede. The main purpose for going there was to meet friends for a picnic in a delightful place right on the bank of the River Thames. Runnymede is just on the outskirts of London and is a site steeped in history and most famous for the signing of the Magna Carta, see PO & IF below. Our walk was circular and took us from one historic point to another, with a suitable length and elevation to build up a good appetite for the picnic.

Runnymede river Thames

Runnymede river Thames

Picnic by the river Thames

Picnic by the river Thames

River Thames where we had our picnic

River Thames where we had our picnic

Runnymede Air Forces War Memorial dedicated to some 20,456 men and women from air forces of the British Empire who were lost in air and other operations during World War II.

Runnymede Air Forces War Memorial dedicated to some 20,456 men and women from air forces of the British Empire who were lost in air and other operations during World War II.

Monument to the Magna Carta

Monument to the Magna Carta

Reflections in the Magna Carta Pool

Reflections in the Magna Carta Pool

By August we were all in the swing of the “new normal”. With the wearing of face coverings mandatory for all indoor establishments, although that was something we were already doing voluntarily.
Anne was able to have her hair cut and we both visited the dentist for a check up. Both very straight forward activities under normal circumstances but somewhat different in the world of covid-19. At the dentist we were required to wear masks right up until the inspection began, our temperature was taken when we arrived and the seats in the waiting room were all two meters apart.
Pubs were now open, so it was great to be able to have a pub lunch after one of our more lengthy walks. It was a beautiful day so we could dine in the garden, thus avoiding the more restricted arrangement that were in force inside. All the garden tables were numbered and two meters apart. You socially distanced whilst queuing to give your food and drinks order, you then collected your drinks at the bar and the food was subsequently delivered to your table by a waiter wearing a face mask. A little different to normal but a great pleasure to be able to partake again in one of my favourite pastimes.

First pint at a pub since lockdown

First pint at a pub since lockdown

Outdoor dining at country pub

Outdoor dining at country pub

Our first pub lunch since lockdown

Our first pub lunch since lockdown

We were now ready to return to our travelling life style. Plans were in place to leave Hove for the first time in five months and on the 23rd August start a UK road trip. Our route will take us up the western side of England and into Scotland. Stops of 5 to 7 days will be made at places of interest until we reach the Scottish Highland, at this point we will start the North Coast 500. The NC500, as it is known, is said to be one of the most scenic drives in the world and traces a route that hugs the coast right at the very top of Scotland. This time we will make shorter breaks, enough to see the places of interest, before continuing on our way. Once the NC500 is complete we will continue down the eastern side of Scotland and England, but at this point our plans are more fluid and we will make decisions as we go along.
We are both very excited to be travelling again and will cautiously plan further travels as time goes by. All the time we will be keeping our fingers crossed that the situation with Covid-19 continues to improve and that our future travel options expand.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Statistics

By the time August had arrived, Covid-19 seemed to be under control in Europe, although there were still a few isolated outbreaks which required more stringent local controls to be put in place.
However, this was not the case in other parts of the world. In particular, the USA, Brazil, India, Russia and other central and south American countries were still suffering.
As of the 17 August the statistics were as follows:

World: 22,043,560 cases & 777,073 deaths

USA: 5,612,027 cases & 173,716 deaths
Brazil: 3,363,235 cases & 108,654 deaths
India: 2,701,604 cases & 51,925 deaths
Russia: 927,745 cases & 15,740 deaths
South Africa: 589,886 cases & 11,982 deaths
Peru: 541.493 cases & 26,481 deaths
Mexico: 522,162 cases & 56,757 deaths
Colombia: 476,660 cases & 15,372 deaths
Chile: 387,502 cases & 10,513 deaths
Spain: 382,142 cases & 28,646 deaths

Magna Carta

In the 800 years since it was first sealed, this milestone of individual rights and freedoms has provided inspiration for many important constitutional documents. The 1791 United States Bill of Rights, the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many more owe a huge debt to one summer's day at Runnymede many years ago.

In 1215, England was in political turmoil. King John had become vastly unpopular, thanks to bitter disagreements with the church and a series of high taxes to fund ongoing war with France. An alliance of disgruntled barons and important members of the clergy had been mounting pressure on the king for years. At the start of 1215 the barons seized control of London - giving him no choice but to negotiate.

Events came to a head in June, when King John finally met with the barons to hear their demands. By 15 June he had agreed to seal the proposed 'Great Charter of Liberty (Magna Carta)’ during a ceremony at Runnymede near Windsor England, thus enshrining their rights in law.
 
The Magna Carta was special because it held the king accountable to the rule of law, just like his subjects. In total it was made up of 63 clauses, covering law, liberty and the church.The most famous and important of these clauses enshrined to the rights of "free men" to justice and a fair trial. Although at the time "free men" only referred to a small number of noblemen, this passage has taken on symbolic significance over the years. Today it is one of three original clauses that still survive in British law.
 
At the time Magna Carta had very little legal impact. At King John's request it was repealed almost immediately by the Pope, who emphatically declared the document "null and void of all validity forever".
It was only later that the 'Great Charter' began to have real consequences. King John's successor King Henry III released three revised versions of Magna Carta during his reign, and over the years it began to take on symbolic status.
 
The Magna Carta, original document

The Magna Carta, original document

Magna Carta Translation

Magna Carta Translation

Posted by MAd4travel 06:47 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (4)

Empty London

As an addendum to my earlier post about life in the UK, I'd like to share a few photos taken by my husband Chris (with his permission) of the empty streets in central London. I haven't been into the centre of the city since the lockdown began - I can't take the Tube as I normally would (it's restricted to those who absolutely have to travel, like key workers, and in any case I wouldn't want to. It's too far to walk and unlike Chris I don't cycle. But he has been doing a weekly bike ride, on a Sunday morning when it is quiet, right into the West End and beyond. Here are a few of his photos of London as we never normally see it.

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Trafalgar Square

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Leicester Square

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Piccadilly Circus

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Oxford Street, and Tower Bridge

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Chinatown (Gerrard Street)

Posted by ToonSarah 07:10 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london england covid_19 Comments (12)

Adapting

MY BACK GARDEN.          Social Distancing. !

MY BACK GARDEN. Social Distancing. !

MY KITCHEN FRIDGE.    Magnets.

MY KITCHEN FRIDGE. Magnets.

--------I"m in isolation now for over a month, i go to the supermarket once a week. My friend visits me, and we sit in the back garden at social distances. -------My fridge as magnets to remind me of my travels, to over 47 countries in Europe. I did take a ferry across to North Africa to Ceuta.------------

AVENUE OF LIME TREES NEAR MY HOME.  Just in new leaf.

AVENUE OF LIME TREES NEAR MY HOME. Just in new leaf.

WALK FROM SUPERMARKET.

WALK FROM SUPERMARKET.

SOMEBODY ELSE "S GARDEN !

SOMEBODY ELSE "S GARDEN !

FLOWERS AGAINST THE FENCE.

FLOWERS AGAINST THE FENCE.

----The street where i live is an avenue of lime trees just coming into leaf.

My walk to the Supermarket is about 200 metres.
NOTICE AT FRONT OF SUPERMARKET.

NOTICE AT FRONT OF SUPERMARKET.

ANOTHER NOTICE AT SUPERMARKET.

ANOTHER NOTICE AT SUPERMARKET.

-----At the Supermarket, customers wait outside at 2m distances till called to enter- the floor is marked out at 2m areas, one person at a time. At the Cashout the assistant is behind a perspex screen. Near the supermarket is a Fish & Chip takeaway, closed at first, but now i noticed a hand written sign saying, order from outside the front door and please wait at 2m distance from other people. Strange times. STAY SAFE.

I think because of the Virus lockdown here in the UK there are more tidy gardens. There seems to be a lot of dog walkers, do you think they are borrowing dogs. I have noticed that the local store of B & Q have opened with regulations like the supermarkets. Distancing outside and in store. B & Q are a hardware store, D.i , Y. -------------------------------------- The council have changed the way they work on Rubbish collect, { Waste or Trash,} The green wheely bin for garden rubbish is suspended, the reason being is the men in the recycling lorry, are normally close together in the drivers cab, and this is too close for virus reasons. So now the Garden rubbish men will help the recycling van. Pity,Green wheely bin for garden rubbish.

Green wheely bin for garden rubbish.

Green box for plastic and tins,  Middle black box for paper and cardboard,  Other black box for glass.

Green box for plastic and tins, Middle black box for paper and cardboard, Other black box for glass.

for my Garden rubbish bin, because i"ve just cut the back garden grass { i call it grass because its not good enough to be called a lawn.

Posted by alectrevor 01:22 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

In Ealing, West London, UK

Sarah's experiences

I have lived in Ealing for 39 years, and in our present home in South Ealing for 34 years, but I never knew until a week or so ago that Margot Fonteyn lived near here, or that Agatha Christie’s parents are buried in our local cemetery. I didn’t know that Spencer Walpole, who was Home Secretary under three different Tory governments in the mid 19th century, is also buried there, nor that a local church, less than a mile from our house, is dedicated to his father-in-law, Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated, who used to live in a house on that site.

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In South Ealing Cemetery - grave of Agatha Christie's parents

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Grave of Spencer Walpole

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All Saints Church
~ built in memory of Spencer Perceval

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And the reason I now know about these things? The Coronavirus lockdown in the UK, aimed at restricting the spread of COVID-19, allows us to take some exercise in the form of one walk, run or cycle ride per day. I don’t cycle or run (my usual exercise is swimming, not possible under present circumstances) so I go for a walk, usually with my husband Chris. We are fortunate to have two lovely parks nearby, but they can get busier at weekends and holiday periods (the lockdown has spanned the Easter period), and I also get bored following the same route every day, so we’ve started to explore parts of our locality that we’ve never visited before, including the nearby cemetery. We must have driven past this hundreds of times, and walked past too, but never once ventured inside. And what a beautiful, tranquil spot we have discovered!

So, life is pretty different right now, as it is almost everywhere in the world. But I’m also discovering that each country has its own slightly different response, and so each of us is being affected differently. Part of the purpose of this shared blog is to explore the impact the COVID-19 on all of us – what we have in common and what is unique to our own situation.

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Lilac in our garden

Background: the situation in the UK

In the UK ‘lockdown’ was introduced just over three weeks ago, on Monday 23rd March. Prior to that some advisory restrictions were in place asking anyone with a persistent cough and/or fever to isolate themselves. Anyone with underlying health issues and those over seventy were also advised to self-isolate. The rest of us were free to carry on pretty much as normal, going to cinemas, restaurants, pubs etc., using public transport and going to work or school. Some places had started to introduce their own measures – for example, churches recommended avoiding physical contact between worshippers such as shaking hands as a sign of peace. And there was a run on hand-sanitiser and toilet paper as people became nervous about what was to come.

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Cafe in Ealing Broadway

On Monday 23rd March the government announced lockdown measures. Since then we have been allowed to leave our homes only for one of four reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, as infrequently as possible
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of our household
  • Any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling for work purposes, but only if we cannot work from home

Most shops are closed – only those selling food and drink, and pharmacies, can stay open. Pubs, restaurants, libraries, sports facilities, places of worship – all are closed. Cafés and coffee shops can offer a take-away service if they can do so within the physical distancing rules, and restaurants can offer home delivery. Those shops that are open are limiting the number of customers inside at any time, so queuing has become the norm. When standing in these queues I am often reminded of my mother’s stories about the post-war rationing that was still in place in the early days of my parents’ marriage. She told me she would often see a queue and join it without knowing what she was queuing for, as it was bound to be something hard to get like oranges!

And when we do go out, we must follow these guidelines:

  • Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible
  • Keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household
  • No gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces
  • Take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors

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Plane coming in to land at Heathrow
~ our house is on the edge of a flight path so one blessing at the moment is that we have far fewer planes overhead!

Many people are furloughed – the term used for those not required to work but retained by their employer pending the return to ‘normality’. The government is paying 80% of their wages (up to a limit of £2,500 per day) and there is a similar scheme to compensate the self-employed who are unable to work. But many are falling through the safety nets, or waiting too long to see the money start to flow, so demand on food banks etc. is increasing – more on that later in my blog.

So what about me?

I am more fortunate than most. I am retired and on a decent pension, so I don’t have the financial or job security worries that many others have. I share my home with my husband Chris, so I’m not having to practice social distancing alone. I live within an easy walk of shops and of parks, for my daily exercise. And so far, thankfully, I have avoided catching the virus, nor has it yet touched anyone close to me.

So my main problems are boredom and frustration – that is, not really problems at all in the greater scheme of things. I would love to be able to go to the cinema, meet friends for lunch, see my sister, go out for dinner or even just for a coffee with Chris – but I can’t, which makes life somewhat boring. And I would love to be able to book a holiday, or even several, but I can’t really do that either, or at least not with any certainty of being able to take it, which is what I find frustrating. But I can:

Walk in some lovely local parks and appreciate the coming of spring

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In Walpole Park

Discover new things about our part of west London, Ealing, as I mentioned above

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Primroses in South Ealing Cemetery

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More photos from our walks in the cemetery

Send for take-ways to replicate the dining-out experience at home, which has become our weekly Saturday evening treat

Have virtual get-togethers with friends – so far I have enjoyed an evening drink with a couple of great colleagues from my consultancy work, had several Sunday morning catch-ups with Virtual Tourist friends in the UK and Switzerland, and attended a larger virtual VT meeting involving friends from the UK, US, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Bosnia.

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Celandines

I also have plenty to do. We were fortunate to be able to fit in a holiday just before (or more accurately as) the Coronavirus pandemic started, to Indochina, and I am kept busy with writing up my blog entries on that trip.

And I am very involved in supporting the charity Chris co-founded some years ago, Plan Zheroes, which matches food businesses (caterers, shops, restaurants etc.) who have surplus food with charities who can make use of it. There was a flurry of activity in the first couple of weeks of the lockdown as restaurants that were having to close needed to get rid of the food they had in stock and turned to us to find good uses for it. Likewise caterers found that the workplaces they usually supply no longer needed them and also had sometimes huge quantities of perfectly food that would have gone to waste had we not found charities to take it. At the same time more charities have been getting involved in sourcing food for people who are struggling under the current restrictions, with incomes precarious and children who would normally get a school meal now at home. More recently chefs in some of our partner food businesses have been volunteering their time to cook meals for the vulnerable and/or NHS staff and we are helping them with fund-raising for ingredients and with distribution of the cooked meals.

Talking of the NHS, there has been an upswelling of support here for the doctors, nurses and other health workers who are bearing the brunt of this crisis. Every Thursday evening at 8.00 pm many of us are coming to our front doorsteps, standing on balconies or at open windows to applaud them, and the BBC are even covering this weekly event live on TV. Children are painting pictures of rainbows to stick in front windows with messages of gratitude and support, and so on. Cynics are wondering if these expressions of appreciation will endure beyond the crisis and lead to better funding for the services, but only time will tell, and this is perhaps not the place for politics!

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Signs on a local house and in a shop window

So, I’m doing OK I guess – how are you doing?

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In a local garden

Posted by ToonSarah 00:32 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged parks london england history coronavirus covid_19 Comments (16)

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