We were put into Tier 3 in mid-October, so we had 5 1/2 months of not being able to leave the local area. Being separated from family and friends in other parts of the country has been very hard, and I really feel for people whose loved ones are abroad and who can’t visit them even now. And, much as I love my home city and our local park, I need to get out into the countryside, especially to the Lake District, to clear my anxiety-filled head and lift my soul; and not being able to do that’s been difficult and frustrating. But hopefully, thanks especially to the wonderful efforts of the Vaccine Taskforce , we’re now on the “Roadmap to Freedom”; and I finally got to go back to Windermere on Good Friday. And, for once, the Bank Holiday weather played ball – not a cloud in the deep blue sky.
Lockdown’s affected different parts of the country in different ways. We’ve been under additional restrictions since the end of July, which has been very tough. Walking round the streets and local park every day, trying to avoid people with horrible barking dogs and wishing that the queues at the cafes were shorter, I’ve sometimes envied people living in rural areas. But, because we’re a densely-populated area, the takeaway cafes have been very busy all along. I often see people I know in the queues at the park cafes, or the cafes on the main road, which is rather nice; and it’s also nice for our local businesses to have that custom. But, at Windermere, a lot of places closed at the start of Lockdown III, or even earlier, and have only just reopened. Tourist attractions remain closed for now, although (hooray!!) the steamers between Bowness and Ambleside can operate, classed as public transport. But it’s been a tough old time for tourist areas. Blackpool’s tourism boss said last week that recovery’d probably take five years. Windermere Lake Cruises have spent millions on a lovely new steamer- which I was lucky enough to be able to go on yesterday – only to find that they couldn’t run any steamers at all for much of last year and the first three months of this year.
So it was absolutely wonderful, and very special, for me to be there. By a weird coincidence, the music in the car, which was on shuffle, decided to have Elvis singing “Glory glory Hallelujah” as I caught my first glimpse of the lake from the A591, and that seemed very fitting! And it’s also wonderful for tourist areas to be able to start welcoming visitors back.
I thought it’d be busy. It wasn’t. The “stay local” and “minimise travel” rules are … er, well, let’s say that everyone’s interpreting them in their own way. But some people aren’t leaving their local area, some people are still nervous about going out at all, some people aren’t sure what will and won’t be open, and, with overnight stays still banned, there’s only so far that anyone can go anyway. And goodness knows when overseas tourists will be back: the Lake District usually welcomes a lot of visitors from the Far East in the spring, from Europe in the summer and from the US in the autumn, and I can’t see that that’s going to happen this year. But maybe we’ll see another Staycation Summer: last year’s was a big boost.
But, for me, it was glorious! This is my favourite time of year, when the daffodils are out. I didn’t think I’d get to see the daffodils at the Lakes this year, and to be able to see them at Windermere, and, later in the day, at Sizergh Castle, especially under that beautiful blue sky, really did mean so much. And being able to get back out on to the lake on the glorious steamers. I miss being able to go abroad, but not as much as I’ve missed the Lake District! There is nothing like the wonderful views there, and the feeling of peace and nature and timelessness.
It’s quite strange being able to plan again. OK, we can’t plan holidays yet, but I can start thinking about when I might go and see the lambs at Tatton Park, and the bluebell walks at Capesthorne Hall, and have a day out in Blackpool, and so on. I don’t expect miracles, and I don’t think we’ll be getting back to normal any time this year. But we’re making a start. And I’m so very grateful to have had that day yesterday. I waited a long time for it!
If anyone’s reading this, thanks for reading, enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend, and stay safe xxx.
– daffodils at Bowness Pier
– the Swift, new steamer
– blueberry scone from the Waterhead Coffee Shop
– lambs and daffodils at Sizergh Castle