Of the many things I never imagine I’d end up doing until this crisis (ringing people up randomly for a chat, voluntarily making a video call, not riding my bike for a week) we can add another: driving out 100 miles in one direction just to have a picnic in someone’s garden, and then driving home again the same day.
But it’s different when the garden in question is your parents’, and you’ve been unable to visit them for over three months.
Since last week, we’ve finally been able to leave our local* area, as long as it’s to visit family and friends, and as long as you all eat your own food and don’t go into their house except to use the loo. We would have headed off earlier, but I had missed the import of the latest announcement, and then we had to find a date when we were free, combined with a forecast for suitable weather for sitting in a garden with two octogenarians. The weather immediately turned dreich for the first two days of this week, but today looked just right and despite various cautionary texts from my father about it being to cold, too hot, too windy, too sunny or too perfect, we took our lives into our hands and headed across to Duns with a packed lunch, a wide brimmed hat and a bag of salad from the garden (pandemic or no, we’ve reached the stage of the salad growing cycle where nobody escapes being given a bag of salad unless they actively fight it off).
It was just over two hours to get there (not helped by the coonsil deciding to close half the roads in the county for roadworks, just as the traffic was getting back to normal) and the same to get back, and it was very strange to be in the same garden but not to have a hug, or even go into the kitchen to help Mum with the lunch – but it was entirely worth it.
We’re so fortunate to have have been able to reach this milestone at all; so many thousands of families have not. The news as we drove back was full of stories of lockdown easing but I’m not champing at the bit to get to a pub, or eat a meal in a restaurant, or even go anywhere else but to my parents’ any time soon. I can only hope that things continue to ease enough that the next time we go, we can give each other a hug – and then that the other half can get to see his dad again, over in the US.
That doesn’t seem too much to ask, does it?
* defined as about 5 miles, but that doesn’t even get us to the nearest shop here, so a bit of creative accounting has been applied.