'Masks, flask, clothing for all climates... the Wilsons are all set for our English summer holiday'
Bishop's Stortford mum Cate Wilson writes the seventh part of her Lockdown Life diary for the Indie...
After more than three months of confinement, life is slowly returning to something approaching normal. Hairdresser appointments have been booked, friends' gardens have been visited and shops have reopened on the high street.
The biggest hurrah in the Wilson household though was the joyous news that we would finally be able to take a family holiday.
Having already waved goodbye to an Easter break in the USA and cancelled a July trip to see friends overseas, we had long resigned ourselves to the fact that the only waves we would be seeing this year were likely to be of the coronavirus variety.
However, in a rare moment of fortuitous forward planning by the Wilsons, we still had one ace up our sleeve. Our self-catering week in a two-berth rustic cottage in Northumberland.
Yes, in the days before coronavirus arrived on our shores, a dull October weekend had seen us throw caution to the wind and book a summer week away on the north coast with the dog. Here, we felt, was an opportunity for us to spend some reflective time alone free from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A time to feel the biting North East rain on our faces and enjoy the solitude of just being with each other.
Clearly, having spent the last 15 weeks of our lives cooped up together, we were now as one in a new-found belief that family time is best enjoyed in bite-size chunks. Yet the lure of time away from the delights of a one-mile radius of our front door was intoxicating. So what if the self-catering cottage came with an owners' teaser of 'a cosy snug-like dwelling'.
In our collective mind, the outskirts of Seahouses had taken on Las Vegas-type proportions in the delights and temptations it could now offer us.
And, as the husband cheerfully pointed out, we were not going to be alone. Every last B&B room, caravan park and tent pitch would be triple booked, with the added first-day bonus of a guaranteed bumper-to-bumper slow crawl past Watford Gap and beyond. This, he confidently predicted, would serve only to whet our appetite for the holiday magic which lay ahead.
After all, how romantic it would be to turn up at our holiday accommodation and fumble around for the keys in moonlight rather than the predictable mid-afternoon arrival favoured by most holidaymakers. What an adventure it would be to explore by fingertip an unfamiliar rental cottage in the dark. First prize to the person who can find the main light switch without tripping over the dog.
Even the teenager was moved to something approaching mild excitement. And this from somebody who, when originally asked in October for his preferred option for a family week away, had written "Can I stay at home please?" Exactly. Progress. Although I may desist from showing him the cottage details containing the disclaimer "due to its remote location, wifi at the property can be intermittent and connection may not be possible at all times".
Still, hopefully there will be no need for indoor pursuits. Located "just a short drive from the beach" (generally translated as one to two hours plus the time it takes to endlessly circle the town looking for a legal parking space), we can just potter on the sands together and enjoy the sunshine.
Well, sunshine might be stretching it. A swift look at the weather averages for Northumberland reports a dazzling 17C for a typical August day – and lows of 8C – but heigh-ho, we can slip on a jumper if necessary. And a duffle coat and gloves. I mean, we're British for goodness sake. I'll pack the flask. Stop whingeing and suck that great sea air into your lungs.
Jokes aside, there is of course some trepidation. The virus is still here and reports of overwhelmed coastal resorts and thousands flocking to Bournemouth beach, leaving 22 tonnes of rubbish and human filth, should give us all pause for thought.
We will endeavour to socially distance and will be packing our masks. Pretty safe in the assumption that, unlike those flocking to the Spanish Costas, we are unlikely to get a half-face tan line in Northumberland. We will also, in the great tradition of the British staycation, be packing clothing for all climates ranging from Arctic winter to melted Tarmac.
As well as the hand sanitiser, of course.