Monday, 23 March 2020

Down by the riverside

I felt a real need to get out of the house yesterday, especially as I was convinced that the combination of exercise and fresh air would help lift my mood. A little too much research into the science behind the spread of novel Corona virus, and the implications relating to how long this pandemic is going to last, was not the best idea before bedtime, particularly when a good night’s sleep was at stake, but hey, us scientists have a need to know these things

I’m pleased to say my idea worked, and despite a cold easterly wind, the bright spring sunshine helped restore my sanity and brought the way I was feeling back to an even keel. My mood had lifted even before I stepped out of my front door, and with the blossom in full bloom, and people’s gardens looking immaculate, I headed into Tonbridge.

Rather than my normal direct stroll into town, I decided on a circular walk, which took me over the main railway line, past the Royal Mail sorting office and then through the town’s industrial estate. The row of smart, new 20 plate Mercedes, lined up outside one car dealership, looked like they'd remain unsold for some time; people having rather more pressing things on their minds! From there I had a pleasant amble along the banks of the River Medway, towards the Town Lock.

The landscape along the river has changed significantly since the days when I first came to Tonbridge. Back then, part of my walk to work was along the course of the river. Today the rusting hulk of an old gasometer still dominates the southern bank, but new housing developments have sprung up on both sides of the river over the past 15 years, completely altering what was once a very pleasant and semi-rural walk.

I stopped to take a few photos of these developments, with Pete Seeger’s Little Boxes very much on my mind. All that was missing was the hillside, but riverside would be
an appropriate substitution! As an aside, I first became familiar with that song back in the early sixties, after my parents, who were not know for their radicalism, bought a copy of the single. As an eight year old boy, I didn’t quite get the nuances or indeed the message behind the song, but it stuck in my mind and comes back to me when I see unbridled developments scarring the countryside.

These new houses and apartments illustrate the folly of building close to a river that is known to flood, as whilst the accommodation is of
sufficient height, being constructed above the ground level, the communal garage and car parking areas have unsurprisingly, found themselves under water in recent years. In such conditions, your four-wheel, pride and joy can quickly become an expensive write off, as several local residents have found to their cost.

There weren’t many people about, but ironically I bumped into a friend and then, on my way home, a neighbour.  I hadn't seen either of them for a while, so in both cases there was plenty to catch up with and talk about. Being responsible citizens we managed to exchange our news, views and gossip whilst maintaining the recommended 2 metres, social distancing between us.

I made my way to the Nelson Arms - the community local which has just been voted West Kent CAMRA Pub of the Year. The pub closed several days before Johnson’s edict, but is offering a takeaway service for both beer and cooked meals. I treated myself to a 2 pint container of Goacher's Old, which was one of several local cask ales on tap. Should keg take your fancy, Westmalle Dubbel and Paulaner Munchener Hell are also available. Son Matthew will be pleased when I tell him that the latter beer is available.

Landlord Matt said that beer sales had been buoyant the day before, but Sunday had been very good for takeaway food, with the roast dinners proving extremely popular. The pub offers free delivery for food in south Tonbridge, and having eaten several times at the pub in happier times, the meals come highly recommended.

As with my previous encounters, social distancing was the order of the day, and in addition to keeping ones distance the pub has hand sanitizer and wipes to hand. Also, like many other establishments at the moment, payment is by card, rather than cash.

Several other pubs in the town, are also offering a similar, take-out service, and I will give then a mention in due course. Like many of my CAMRA friends and colleagues, I am keen to support these local businesses, especially as we need them to be there for us, once this pandemic is over.

So the message is follow the new government guidelines – issued less than an hour ago. You should stay at home as much as possible, although you will be allowed out to buy food or pick up medicines. You can also go out to exercise, preferably on your own, or with one other member of your household.  Avoid gatherings of more than two people, and only go to your place of employment if you are unable to work from home.

Presumably it is still permitted to buy take-away beer from a local pub that is offering the service, although this may become clearer over the coming days and weeks. Whatever you do, maintain that strict 2 metre separation between yourself and other people, and above all, stay safe and do all you can to stay well.


retiredmartin said...

It is striking how beautiful our gardens and parks look at the moment, and I've heard birdsong locally for the first time in years.

Etu said...

Paul, you've just reminded me of "the saintliness of Pete Seeger" as Dylan once observed.

But it's interesting that our PM - who has in principle few executive powers - is able to issue these edicts, which breach several Human Rights.

He is enabled by our sovereign Parliament, however, and Article Fifteen of ECHR allows our Human Rights to be waived temporarily, where the Life Of The Nation is under threat as it clearly is at the moment.

I'd like those who rage against ECHR as tying the country's hands to reflect upon these facts, before arguing for all sixty-seven million of us to be deprived of all fourteen of our rights permanently by the UK's pulling out.

Martin, yes, those of us who are lucky enough to have gardens for respite are indeed lucky.

Paul Bailey said...

I'm fortunate in having quite a large garden, but it's in need of some tlc. I've plans for it, but nothing too drastic, so weather permitting, that's where you'll find me.

Etu, those raging against the ECHR should take note of the key role played by Britain in drafting the "European charter of human rights" in establishing a court to enforce it. However, much as I dislike our current PM, the edicts being put into place are not only necessary, but will ultimately save lives and help turn the tide against this insidious little virus.

There are lessons to be learnt, especially as we got off lightly with past "exotic diseases," but it's a different story this time around.

Citra said...

I took my own walk this morning, no rivers but pleasant country lanes, passing three closed pubs along the way, I don't particularly think much of them, but still wish they were open, I would have been tempted.

Paul Bailey said...

I felt the same Citra, when I walked past a closed rural pub, yesterday. It wasn't one that I'd normally frequent, but it looked very attractive, and tempting, in the bright spring sunshine.

Etu said...

Yes, Paul, I accept the need for these measures, and regret that they weren't introduced at the time that WHO said they should.

There's been a backlash against them, mainly by the very vocal minority among those who argued most fiercely for the election of this very government, ironically.

All sorts of previous nonsense is being exposed by the current position though, and that is at least something.