It’s been a long, long, lonely winter, as the Beatles might have said, before heralding the sun…and spring and, hopefully, an end to the [necessary?] measures that have restricted all our activities for nearly twelve months now. It didn’t seem to matter whether you lived in the north or the south, although Cornwall and the Outer Hebrides made a claim to be relatively safe. It’s probably true that in the countryside v city, we in the wilds of Yorkshire were better placed to isolate, although the Great Yorkshire Cities of Leeds and Bradford had more than their fair share of infections.
So, trying to fathom our way through the endlessly changing regulations, it became easier to  walk à deux, or  with 2-4 friends when regulations allowed. No, we weren’t tempted to sneak into a ‘rave’ or engage in snowball fight. We just kept our heads down. Who’d have thought…children of the wild ’60s, religiously obeying every rule. Whatever next?
Luckily, there are plenty of walks to [re]discover. It’s been a bit more tricky in [total] Lockdown 3, walking from home. We’ve come to know the quiet lanes rather well, enjoying the 8-10 mile circuit known locally as ‘Rishi’s circuit’. Our esteemed chancellor lives in a rather nice country house with 12 acres, a pond and a gravel drive. Bought when he became our MP in 2015, for £1.5m, coming from London he must have thought that was just for the garage…or maybe they’d got the decimal point in the wrong place? We’ve walked past it so many times we’re surprised Special Branch haven’t popped out of the hedge asking us if we’re planning an insurrection. Mind you, a couple of smartly dressed chaps in a black Range Rover with curly wires coming out of their ears passed us last week…
We’ve enjoyed our picnics part way through the walks in previous lockdowns, sadly more recently replaced by ‘coffee and cake’. The picnics have adopted a comforting familiarity with only slight variations to the menu.
Key to all this is food. In addition to the Naked fruit bars for emergencies, we carry a picnic notable for both its lack of variety and strict adherence to the menu. It’s creation is clearly divided – like Theresa May we have “girls’ jobs” and “boys’ jobs”. So, for two people we carry:
Two sandwiches, comprising home baked bread bun, 80g pre-baked weight, made using Sunflower’s ‘Harvest Flour’ filled with (1) thin smoked ham and gruyère, comté, farmhouse cheddar, Stonegrave, Barncliffe blue etc, according to stocks, with some homemade damson or apple chutney and a baby gem leaf. Wrapped in a beeswax wrap – have you noticed how plastic wrapping has re-emerged everywhere since COVID – so much for all those good intentions.
A Lakeland box with about a dozen baby tomatoes, or grapes.
A reused packet filled with 50g naked or low salt crisps (taken from a 150g packet).
A pear and an easy-peeler (satsuma to you and me).
Two pieces of homemade cake – currently flapjack, but could be Paul Holliwood’s Caribbean cake, or carrot cake, or [gone now alas] left over Christmas cake.
A flask of coffee, contained in a pre-heated 330ml with a spare mug [boy’s job]
Creatures of habit? Us? Roll on parole, or day release, or something. We absolutely, without fail, definitely support the government’s measures [if not the government] but let’s look forward to freedom and eating out. Eating in, with a restaurant’s delivery service is just not always the same. As you’ll see in the next two posts…