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w/e 2021-03-20

No doubt you’re as exhausted by the week’s non-stop birthday celebrations as I am but they’re now over for another year. Thank you for taking part. It’s kind of you to say that I don’t look a day over fifty but I am, now, 51, if you can believe something so ludicrous.

Photo of The Kilpeck Inn, an old white-painted pub with its name painted in capitals on one gable end

My past two birthdays have been spent at home, cowering from covid, but now we are free and all of that’s over! Well, anyway, we did at least feel safer than the previous two years and so went out for lunch on my birthday, walking the 6-7km each way to the Kilpeck Inn, a nice gastropub type pub, and tried not to feel too worried about catching a virus with potentially life-changing effects.

As if that wasn’t carefree enough, the following day we went out for lunch again, to celebrate father-in-law’s birthday at a different gastropub, The Bell at Skenfrith. Hopefully we didn’t pick up an extra virusy birthday present on these two outings. 🤞🏻

Having not been anywhere for a long time I was wondering how people are behaving, mask-wise, now that we’re free, FREE! (but still surrounded by a killer virus) Here are my observations from the couple of days:

  • Kilpeck Inn: No one else wore a mask at any point, including the staff.
  • The Bell: Staff all wore masks and nearly all punters wore masks while walking around, because signs asked them to.
  • Wren Kitchens (the Hereford branch had just opened, so we went to have a nose): No one else was wearing masks, including staff.
  • Asda: Hardly any other customers wearing masks.

Mildly terrifying. But also it has been very, very nice to have two extremely tasty meals out.

[Update: Mary pointed out that Skenfrith is in Wales where they have more sensible rules, which is why the Bell is the odd one out here.]

§ I’m very glad the weather is being spring-like right now. Earlier in the week I was thinking how I am really, really ready for the end of winter now. It was all just Enough. Enough being a bit too chilly. Enough rain and clouds. Enough of nothing changing. But then now sun, some warmth, glorious views, more daffodils, buds on trees. This, as a place, feels transformed. Hope. Thank fuck.

§ Top wildlife news this week: I looked out of the window and saw a deer on the lawn. We’ve seen small deer further down the garden a couple of times in the past, very early in the morning. But this was late-afternoon, out on the lawn, a normal-size deer, with smallish antlers. It stood there for some time, looking around, before heading off to, presumably, find a way out of the garden. Amazing.

A photo of a deer, in profile, facing to the right, with small antlers
Mary’s photo of the deer, on Flickr

§ One of this afternoon’s series of chores was to cut back the grass that was creeping across the edges of the patio. It didn’t need to be done, but I thought it would look nicer. It’s the kind of task that part of me dislikes myself for doing because it thinks I should be above such mundane, domestic, houseproud, pointlessly picky garden detailing. “I bet there’s a couplet mocking someone doing exactly this on the new Half Man Half Biscuit album,” I think, while chopping away at the turf.

But another part of me – for I am a man of many parts, several of them irritating – fights back, arguing that this task, carving an unbending line through the wayward encroaching grass, is actually a symbolic avant-garde act, a triumph of humanity over nature, a harsh but moving work of land art, and an emblem of Modernism.

Anyway, it’s done. It looks fine.

§ That’s all.

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