What to do during a coronavirus lockdown…

My brother just asked me what I was doing. Same as yesterday. Except that today, for a change, I cleaned the Dyson. And I found a filter that I hadn’t noticed before so I watched a Youtube video of a guy who was showing watchers how to service a DC40. The interesting thing about this video was that the guy demonstrated the service using the Dyson from the holiday cottage where he was staying. Now, straight away, I had a few questions. Where was this holiday cottage and what was it about his holiday that prompted him to make a video about servicing a vacuum cleaner? Wasn’t there something more interesting to do, other than servicing the vac? Even more bizarre was his tip to use another vac to mop up the dust from inside the Dyson. Of course, he had another because he’d taken one with him. On his holidays? Who takes a vac on holiday?

This pesky coronavirus is keeping everyone at home, except for those valiant members of different services and industries who are still at work. We have a routine which involves eating at certain times, having our daily walk, gardening, and a bit of music, reading or telly. I think there’s nothing remotely mad about cleaning the vac when a) it’s your own, and b) you’re on a coronavirus lockdown. That’s my excuse.

Anyhow, when we exercise, we always keep a lookout for the local wildlife. Around the quarry, we take our binoculars and it’s great to see the birds; kestrel, buzzard, lapwing, skylark, long-tailed tits, thrushes, etc etc. We’ve chalked up a few butterflies already, including peacock, orange tip and small tortoiseshell. The newts are breaking the surface of the pond from time to time and a grey heron is, invariably, on the look-out for snacks.

During one of our walks, we found another badger sett and so, a couple of nights ago, I walked out in the evening and sat in a field nearby. I was there before dark so I could get settled before the animals emerged. It was so peaceful until it got to 8pm and I heard clapping. Then more clapping, car horns and a firework. Thursday night and clapping for the NHS. It was a very still night and the sound carried for miles. It was amazing. Then, as fast as it started, it stopped, and was replaced by the call and answer of a pair of tawny owls. Now it was dark and a badger emerged from the sett. Then another, and another. I counted four for definite but maybe five playing in front of me until I had to leave for home. Top tip: Binoculars help you see in the dark.

The walk back along the road at around 9.30pm was eerie. No traffic and no people, but the sound of more tawny owls calling from the wood. I wondered how many people actually dream of going for their daily exercise during the hours of darkness. I don’t think there’s a law against it – yet. In fact, it seems eminently sensible, if only to better practice social distancing. It’s a completely different experience walking in the dark, looking up at the stars and listening only to the sounds of the birds and animals of the night. You should try it.

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