It was Friday 20th March 2020. It had been a busy week as we prepared to facilitate as much remote working as possible and I had taken the day off to gather my thoughts.
We rode out to Snowdonia with flasks and a packed lunch, cautiously keeping our distance from any crowds. In fact we managed to avoid people altogether and distanced ourselves as we sat on a stone wall in Beddgelert eating our homemade sandwiches.
In that idyllic location alongside a babbling stream, spring sun warming our back and with little noise other than the sound of the birds, we were unaware of events that were about to unfold.
That evening they announced that the pubs were to close their doors. By Sunday evening we were glued to our television screens for an ominously arranged press conference. Boris spoke and the UK fell silent…
Lockdown, stay at home, flatten the curve.
I remember an overwhelming sense of loss, certainly given the relative freedoms of the ride only a couple of days previous.
I stopped measuring the passage of time on the calendar. The date became inconsequential. Instead time was measured by how many times I had mowed the lawn, and by how many times I had washed the bike.
With confinement to the house the bike didn’t need cleaning, it was just something to do to occupy my time and maintain some connection to an activity denied.
Life is not just the passing of time. Life is the collection of experiences and their intensity – Jim Rohn
March came and went, as did April. We had the great toilet roll famine. People clapped on a Thursday while others obsessed over missing bin collections.
Come the 20th May it was decided that we could travel an unlimited distance to a destination as long as we kept out of the way of all the thousands of others who had the same idea. Luckily as a motorcyclist I don’t need a destination, just the road. So as half the population of England headed to a focal beauty spot, I headed into the hills.
But by this stage the United Kingdom was fragmented. England, Wales and Scotland all had their own agenda. Scotland and Wales remained shut.
As May turned into June we were all getting used to this new normal. We were at this stage all expert bakers. We planned our supermarket shopping trips like military exercises, and we had all built a cardboard fort on the drive due to excessive Amazon deliveries and the lack of recycling collections.
The Times They Are a-Changin’
Come gather 'round, people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You'll be drenched to the bone If your time to you is worth savin' And you better start swimmin' Or you'll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin'
July was a month of change as more shops opened and, of great relief to many, the hair salons reopened. However for me the most significant opening was that of Wales. Travel restrictions had been lifted and we could cross the border that I never really noticed was there.
And so, on the 17th July 2020, some 120 days from our last visit we once again sat on the wall in Beddgelert.
The bike, incidentally, had never looked cleaner.