|Beech Estate campsite, July 2020|
I went to the dentist, routine appointment, but nothing is routine at the moment. The door's closed, ring the bell, my temperature is checked before I come in, I have to wear a face covering and so does everyone there, all possessions put in a plastic tub, no magazines or water in the waiting room, perspex screen in front of reception. Once I'm in the chair and the hygienist and assistant are fully covered up I can take my face covering off. My usual hygienist has had a baby so I've got one who's never met me before, and I get the usual furrowed brows at the state of my gums with some new proposal about how things might be improved - non-surgical suggestions this time. Many things have been tried and failed to help, but it's nice of them to keep coming up with new ideas.
On Saturday morning there was a very exciting incident at home, when I heard crashing and thumping noises in the house, suggestive of an intruder. With hindsight I didn't treat this with the degree of wariness that perhaps I should, but luckily for me it turned out to be a burly woodpigeon in the living room which must have entered via the chimney as all the doors and windows were shut. Again, luckily for me, the chimney hadn't been used much since it was last swept so there wasn't much soot, and the crash was due to an ornamental pot knocked off the windowsill onto the floor. I opened the French doors and burly pigeon exited without any fuss, and hadn't left all that much mess behind it, and I set up the shards of the shattered pot in an artistic manner and reflected on the impermanence of all things.
Last thing before going on holiday was that as I was driving away, I noticed that the pub door was open and there seemed to be some work going on. The workmen were not all that forthcoming about who was ultimately in charge, but it's encouraging to know that the building won't become derelict. It's a very attractive location and I'm sure someone will see the potential, so I just hope it will be a sympathetic operator.
The next day was a bit wet and windy but we went to see what Battle was like, and ended up inside the Abbey, wandering about and listening to a talk all about the years leading up to the famous Battle of Hastings. Then, for the first time in many months, we went INSIDE a cafe and had lunch. There was hand sanitiser, contact details had to be given, there were screens, and there was also... cheese. I haven't bought proper cheese since starting the diet because it simply has too many calories to be worth it, but this was a holiday and the portion wasn't too big and it was truly delicious. We went inside a cafe on the next day too, and I had more cheese.
My plan was to ask all my friends in different walks of life whether they were aware of any jobs at all, and follow leads, and generally take a few months to see if anything useful came up. It wasn't going to be much fun but if I could cobble together something that worked it would be worth it, and I felt vaguely optimistic as I headed off for the next bit of holiday, which was to stay with friends in Surrey: Mr MXF and Bee Lady 2 (BL2), for now I have another friend with a hive. And the name sounds better than Chicken Lady or Mrs MXF.
Mr MXF and BL2 and their two grown-up children are always full of schemes and activities: running, swimming, cycling, tending their small woodland, ecology and sustainability, village activities such as the huge November 5th village bonfire, keeping chickens and now bees, and hosting the 'Run Forest Run' annual running and obstacle course event. My friendship with Mr MXF goes back to university days; BL2 was my companion in 2016 when we went skiing in Bulgaria.
Their acquisition of a small patch of woodland has brought about much wood-related activity and consequent machinery. As a result of a too-tall eucalypt in their garden being taken out during the week there was a vast amount of wood to be cleared, but many neighbours willing to wield an axe and take a barrow-full. A three-meter length of trunk with a diameter of about a meter lay in the garden, and the plan was to use an enormous chainsaw in a rig to cut slabs of it which would be dried and seasoned and eventually turned into table tops. I mostly watched and photographed, but also had a go on the rig for one cut, just because I'll try anything once.