So you are allowed to venture to more places now, as long as you have booked in advance, taken six negative Covid tests, have a vaccination certificate and don’t mind queuing. To save stress why not visit places and attractions nobody else will want to visit?
Monday is England’s next step on the ‘roadmap’ to normality. Wherever you are you may be closing down or opening up or more likely your leaders are doing another u-turn. Normality is a long way off and though you might read messages on line from your favourite places – ‘Welcome Back’ – do they really mean it? Here are some nice places you probably won’t be able to go to…
Bridges open, but one way only, bad luck if you’re on the wrong side of the river.
Dreaming about eating out? Stick to dreamland, everywhere else is fully booked.
Must have beach app on phone to check if you are allowed to visit.
Lighthouses – good for social distancing, but only one visitor at a time.
Someone else got their first, closed until further notice.
Cruises currently limited to passengers who have been vaccinated and are good at rowing.
Wales, different rules to England, you may not be allowed to cross the border.
Cathedrals are always interesting to visit, but this may be as near as you can get. Enter only if you are fully masked and have had a negative Covid test.
Museums are popular outings, especially if it’s raining, but book in advance for your thirty minute slot, book separately in advance for a cafe fifteen minute slot.
Scottish holy island – ferry only goes once a day. Scotland has different rules to England and Wales so you may not be allowed across the border… what a shame, you would really have loved Iona…
National Trust houses always popular for an outing; they are opening up again – of course you have to book in advance and once inside will have to walk round in single file, one way only, no stopping or turning back…
Chances of getting inside here for a look round? Very unlikely…. unless you live there.
Floralia, the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, was held from 27th April to 3rd May during the Roman Republic era 509 BC to 27 BC. I think we should resurrect this fun week, so my Chreastermas Tree has become a Floralia Tree. I tied a ribbon on for everyday of Lockdown and I am now taking one off everyday. Welcome to the famous Gardens of Tidalscribe.
Today I woke up excited as it is Saint George’s Day; Saint George is the patron Saint of England. Then I remembered nobody is quite sure why he is our saint, or what we are meant to do to celebrate. Fortunately it is also William Shakespeare’s birthday and we can all celebrate that. In honour of our great poet and playwright here is a not very good ballad I wrote years ago, still relevant…
From the molten depths of the Iceland peak
Many gathered to hear their lord speak.
‘Centuries under the mountain we’ve lain,
centuries passed since my brother was slain.
Now is the time to return to the isles;
my son must fly across the miles.
Now is the time to forgive and forget;
the wingless, cold creatures may need us yet.’
Now with the day longer than night,
the prince bade farewell to all at first light.
With heavy heart he heard them roar,
as up into the sky he soared;
sun glinting on scales, colours unreal;
emerald, indigo, turquoise and teal.
Below, icy peaks turned to ripples of green;
Many miles he flew before land was seen.
Crowds cheered to hear the outsider had won;
George Saint now the new mayor of London.
The whole of London he wanted to reach,
Embrace the millions in his speech.
‘Tomorrow we celebrate the greatest city on Earth,
Tomorrow we remember Shakespeare’s birth;
On the South Bank on St. Georges Day
We’ll celebrate London in a wonderful way.‘
George worked late that night in City Hall,
Plans for tomorrow, he reviewed them all;
At the Globe, a prize winning play
Written by young Annie Hathaway,
How the dragon rescued the beautiful maid
From forced marriage, kept her safe in his cave.
At Tate Modern, in the great turbine hall
Meeting the Dragon installation art for all.
From City Hall’s glass walls George looked out
As he left the building, descending round about.
Saw the shining city, Thames at low tide,
Alone by the river his heart filled with pride.
Beneath Tower Bridge saw a fiery glow,
Strange shape moving down below
On the river bank, heard a sighing,
Amazed, George saw a dragon lying.
No one in sight, down the narrow steps he trod,
Heart pounding, saw the giant head nod
In greeting, snorted flames and then it spoke
‘I have come to visit the wingless folk,
Whom do I have the honour to address?‘
His father had told him politeness will impress.
On hearing George’s name the dragon trembled,
But no fierce knight did this puny being resemble.
Misunderstandings soon swept away,
George and Dragon talked, soon it would be day.
Many thoughts tumbled inside George’s head,
The magnificent dragon must be sheltered and fed.
As dawn came at Tate Modern, the young artist paced,
His new creation could not fill this vast space.
Suddenly a long shadow fell upon the hall,
He heard the Mayor’s voice urgently call.
Turning he gazed up and up with awe,
Was the most wondrous creature he ever saw;
Though he trembled with fright he just had to gaze
As rainbow scales shone in the Sun’s first rays.
Together they planned how to care for their guest,
Vegetarian food was what he liked best;
That’s lucky quipped the artist, for my art installation
Is made entirely of fruit and vegetation.
As people swarmed to the South Bank that day,
From the Wheel to Tower Bridge, all the way;
Musicians, magicians, jugglers, living statues,
At the Festival Hall free concerts to choose.
On T.V. the Mayor promised finale at Tate Modern,
Broadcast to the nation, Londoners surged in.
Crowds made the Dragon nervous but he bravely stood his ground,
The Mayor stood beside him and spoke to all around.
‘Today London welcomes a visitor unique,
no city ever will enjoy such a week;
but first pray silence from everyone I ask
for I must perform a very solemn task.
On behalf of all England, new bonds let us forge,
Pray forgive us for your uncle’s slaying by the wicked knight Saint George.’
The Dragon’s voice enchanted all, with his speech urbane and witty,
The Mayor of London thanked him with the freedom of the city.
Each morning Londoners thrilled at the sight
Of the Dragon soaring gracefully in flight.
But not just for fun, he was on a mission
Reporting to George on the City’s condition.
Spotted Battersea power station derelict and sad
Had an idea to make George glad.
No fossil fuel needed at a dragon power station,
At Battersea restored, his flames could heat the nation.
At City Hall George held his press morning,
TV and papers full of dire warnings.
The Mayor refuted the wicked claims
That the Dragon’s father had issued the flames
That started the Great Fire of London.
‘I trust completely this fine dragon,
he wants to help us of his own free will
and his carbon footprint will be nill.’
Elections for Mayor of London take place on 6th May; as one of the candidates is Lord Binface, a self-proclaimed interplanetary space warrior, who has challenged both Boris Johnson and Theresa May in general elections, George Saint probably stands a good chance.
We never lived in Windsor, but the town, in the Royal County of Berkshire, was one of our favourite days out when we lived by Heathrow Airport. As the American tourist said ‘Why did they build a royal castle so close to the airport?’ – old joke. Along with many tourists and local families we enjoyed all it has to offer. ‘Long Walks in the Great Park’ – From the Castle gate to the foot of the statue of King George III (The Copper Horse) The Long Walk measures 2.64 miles in length. But the Windsor Great Park extends far beyond what you can see from the castle.
Windsor also has a theatre, a swimming pool, good shopping and the River Thames. A foot bridge takes you over the river to Eton where the famous school is spread out as part of the little town. You can also take a peaceful walk along the riverside very different from the bustle on the Windsor side.
You can go by train from Waterloo and arrive at Windsor and Eton Riverside station, or take the little line built for Queen Victoria, a one stop ride from Slough station ( direct line from Paddington ) which takes you into the heart of the designer shopping centre and exits opposite the castle.
Before the terrible castle fire in 1992 more of the castle grounds were free to the public to wander. We used to take our young children for a walk and show Australian visitors around. Under the archway, past the chapel, stroll up the hill. Our two year old once dashed into the guard room and was chased out by the guards. One side of the castle faces the town, but walk downhill to the river and the castle is high above you on a steep bank. When our daughter was a toddler she nearly gave a Japanese tourist a heart attack; he gasped in horror as she raced towards the turreted wall on the steep side of the grounds. She didn’t topple over, it was a safe height. Another time we peered through a gate and saw Princess Diana bring her two little boys out to watch the soldiers parading.
When we moved away from Heathrow we still visited Windsor on mini breaks to see our friends, usually staying at The Windsor Trooper, a great little old pub with bed and breakfast; bedrooms slightly crooked with sloping floors.
‘In 1917, the name of the royal house was changed from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor because of anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I. There have been four British monarchs of the House of Windsor since then: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II.’
Windsor Castle made the perfect setting for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, especially for the many of us who know Windsor well. The Duke apparently did not want a fuss and got his wish as the long miles of procession and crowd lined streets had to be scaled down to a ceremony within the castle precincts; a dignified walk down the hill with socially distanced military bands lined up with precision on the immaculate green.
The Band of the Grenadier Guards led the funeral procession and family members followed, Princess Anne in a long black coat and the men in morning suits. Following a coffin on foot seems dignified and respectful and it’s always good to see men smartly dressed. The Queen followed in her limousine.
I get nervous when I see The Queen walking unsteadily by herself, especially that day as she stepped out of her car and I wondered why she could not have formed a new bubble. Any other very elderly lady with strapping sons and grandsons would surely have been offered a strong arm to lean on. The Duke was her bubble, but she still has HMS Bubble, the loyal staff who have been on duty three weeks on three weeks off at the castle looking after the royal couple. Dog lovers will be glad to hear that The Queen, despite deciding a while ago not to breed or acquire any more dogs, has done what lots of people have in covid lockdown and acquired two puppies, a corgi and a dorgie, which she enjoys walking.
Inside the chapel were the regulation thirty guests and the emptiness perhaps enhanced the beautiful singing of the choir of four and the playing of the trumpeters. The royal family stuck by all the current funeral rules; we cannot compare their splendidly choregraphed event with bleak funerals at the local crem., livestreamed from one camera, but like other grieving widows The Queen sat by herself. After the service the family all strolled up the hill in the sunshine, ignoring the unnecessary fleet of cars lined up for them, though of course The Queen returned in her limousine. I like to think that once back in the royal apartments they all ripped off their masks and didn’t bother with social distancing!
Whether you watched the funeral avidly live on television and followed the highlights in the news later, or avoided all mention of it, there was more to the Duke of Edinburgh than most of us realised. The blanket comprehensive coverage of his life revealed a refugee from a broken home who saw real active service in the second world war. A life that did become privileged, but how many of us would want their whole life mapped out? Unlike lots of rich people he used his position to make a difference. He highlighted the plight of wildlife long before others were interested and created the Duke of Edinburgh Award to give ordinary teenagers the chance to take on all sorts of challenges. Those from a variety of countries who have spoken about meeting The Duke and how the award changed their lives will remember him and not the many politicians and world leaders who come and go.
Did you watch the funeral? Have you visited Windsor? Have you met any of the royal family?
This could be one of the reasons ( muddy walks carrying little bags containing… ) why people who bought puppies during Lockdown are now getting fed up with them. Ironically, while shelters fill up with unwanted dogs, people who want to keep their pampered ( and expensive ) pets are having them stolen, because of the increasing demand for dogs during lockdown. If the dog thieves could be persuaded to only steal unwanted dogs…
Lonely in Lockdown? No need to be, the new Minister for Fun, when interviewed today, said there was no need for people to be lonely in Lockdown just because they are not allowed to see real people, they can make new friends. You can make new friends out of anything and on the government website you can see some suggestions – here is a sneak preview.