#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 103
The idea of a collection of daily words describing how you felt for 30 days of social distancing and isolation feels really meaningful to me and something that I think I’d really appreciate having in 10 years. Think outside the box of what you might typically write!— NaNoWriMo (@NaNoWriMo) March 31, 2020
I snap a photo of our glasses together, brimming with the golden brown liquids inside. I take a sip and sigh.
‘It’s been so long.’
‘Yeah…,’ my partner agrees quietly.
I turn my head to the side where the road is and beyond a the house with a stone wall and ivy climbing to the roof. There are flowers in pots by the windows, purple and blue. The grass verge at the front is messy, uncut and unruly.
I take a deep breath, my soul quivering. It is easy to ignore the low drone of the A-road just beyond this otherwise idyllic village. They even have a village store, the sign freshly painted in glossy white, the letters bold and black against the pale background.
It’s been a good day, I think. And this is the perfect ending to it.
We drove along quiet roads in the morning, meandering our ways through the back lanes of North Somerset and Wiltshire to reach a sleepy village at the northern edge of the Cranborne Chase AONB. I walked here with a friend nearly a year ago, the memories of that walk etched so deeply in my memories, they still make me quiver. We traipsed for hours in the countryside without seeing another soul, dipping down into the valleys below the hills where we trod for refreshments in pubs. We dipped into river, refreshing our souls and bodies into their cool waters. We laid our head down in fields and forests we shared with bucks and does, our eyes glowing with the fire of each sunsets we witnessed.
The world was different then. Hopping into a train to meet up was an easy thing, dipping in and out of pubs and cafés to ask for a pint or a coffee and a refill of our water bottles was not something to plan.
My hand reaches for a warm chip in the bowl in the middle of the table. Hot to the touch, it nearly burns my tongue but I do not care. I am sitting at a pub, at the end of a long walk on a Saturday, and it feels a little bit like life again.
We had not intended to stop at the pub. When they re-opened we both agreed not to go, but here, in the later afternoon haze, our bodies spent from the walk and not quite enough water, it was a matter of fact to sit at this table outside this pub.
A member of staff had disinfected it before our eyes as we approached. Cocooned in a two metres wide bubble marked by black and yellow tape, we sat down, not thinking about the consequences. We squirted hand gel into our palms, a gesture that is becoming too familiar, the smell of the particular brand we have been using a part our olfactory memory now. Another member of staff came to take out order, a sign at the door ordering us to wait outside.
I take another sip of my ale, the liquid tasting better in this setting than it would have in a bottle in my house. Locals come and go, shouting at one another across the distances marked on the ground. A man swigs the last of his whiskey glass into his mouth before continuing his conversation.
‘She’s a weird one,’ he comments about a girl I do not know but instantly like.
‘Don’t say that,’ the woman interjects.
‘Well she is,’ he insists as they walk away, peace returning to the village, the drone of the A road audible once more.
My partner calls the pub from her cellphone to ask for the bill, the members of staff too busy inside to patrol the outside tables at regular interval. I step into the entrance of the pub, the card machine losing connection if it gets out. I tap my card as quickly as I can on the screen and step out, waiting for confirmation the payment has gone through.
We sling our backpacks on our shoulders again. ‘The river route or the road one?’
‘The river route.’
It is an easy answer, one that doesn’t require any thought even though the light is beginning to fade. We still have a couple of hours of daylight ahead of us. We find the river easily, the air a little cooler by its side. We duck under the A-road, motor vehicles unaware of what lay beneath their wheels, and leave it behind, bleating sheep gradually getting louder around us.
Through nettles and overgrown paths, we carry on until we run out of path and have to join the asphalt again. We tread it quietly, our steps taking to the middle of the road. We pass houses, conversations dipping as people see us pass, an unusual sight in their quiet rural escape.
We reach the car, drink from the water bottle I left there on purpose, and start our journey back. The sun is dipping below the horizon, blinding our eyes to the road ahead. I dip my head out of the window, repeating over and over ‘you’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay,’ to my partner who can barely see the road through the glare of the windscreen.