Oops. I’ve finally realised where most of my money goes: plants. Since the garden centres re-opened, we’ve visited several and the borders are looking crammed, just as I like them to, and all but two of my pots are full – unlike my current bank balance.

Yes, we’ve had to queue, but it’s been worth it.  We’ve also stocked up on bird food, and good job we did, as, when we returned a week later, the shelves had been cleared.  I’m gagging to get back to Wisley, but the queue for the plant centre was so long when we swung by recently to check it out, we didn’t even bother stopping the car. This was on a weekday, too. You can visit the gardens again, hooray, but only if you pre-book and the same goes for a nearby local beauty spot – Claremont, between Esher and Cobham – another favourite of ours.

A little bit further afield, the first garden centre we revisited after they opened up again was one we haven’t been near for over six months (long story) and I felt surprisingly emotional to be back there. The speed with which the staff were busily re-stocking the shelves from their plant-laden trollies was impressive and I managed to catch a passing agapanthus as it flew from trolley to shelf. It just fell into my hands, guvnor, honest…

As mentioned in a previous blog, I also love buying books.  Even though, bizarrely, I’ve been unable to look at one, fiction or non-fiction, since lockdown began.  (I tell a lie: I attempted to read some Winnie-the-Pooh recently, for comfort, but it made me cry instead.) I’ve even struggled to read my beloved magazines. Make of that what you will.

Despite this, I have been compiling a list of must-buys as soon as I can get to a decent bookshop.  Or an indecent one. I’m not fussy. Yes, I know I could have ordered these online, but I much prefer to walk into a well-stocked bookshop and inhale and, as far as I know, they haven’t invented “scratch’n’sniff” online ordering just yet. My favourite bookshop has re-opened, in town, but I’m in no hurry to get back up there, what with the compulsory wearing of masks and the lack of loos.

We don’t need anything else. We’re stocked up with all the essential stuff we’ve needed over the past few months (thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you to Boots, Superdrug, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and the occasional farm shop).  Neither of us needs any new clothes or shoes.  A friend said how much she wanted to buy new clothes but didn’t want to go back into the shops just yet and didn’t like ordering online, either. Even though lockdown rules have been relaxed, a great many people I know aren’t going anywhere any time soon.  There is still a lot of fear out there.

Last week, we visited Kingston again, just before the majority of shops re-opened.  We will be going back there again soon, but hopefully avoiding those shops with the longest queues. I noticed that one of the shops still had its Easter display in the window. The car parks are charging again. They were busy, too.

I needed to go to the bank, for the first time since the day before lockdown, when I cried (I cried in Waterstones, as well. I’m sure they thought I was mad). The same woman served me.  We had a lovely chat and I said how much I was enjoying their choice of background music (lightweight disco) and would she care to join me for a bop around the counter?  I was getting funny looks from another customer nearby, and after she left, the assistant said I seemed like a bubbly, lively, upbeat, happy sort of person, while the other woman looked sour and old! I am pretty much all of those things, most of the time; just not very much right now, so I silently congratulated myself on keeping up appearances, despite everything.

The flower stand at the market was open again and it was lovely to see all the cheery colours, though I didn’t buy anything this time.

We paid a visit to my favourite Italian café, where the owner is hoping he will become a lot busier once the shops have re-opened. We bought pasta and takeaway coffee, and I was pleased to see another couple waiting to come into the shop as we left. We also bought cakes from my other favourite café, again. It’s got to be done!

It will be interesting to see what else will be open when we make our next trip there.

PS: I made the rock ’n’ roll bit up. I’m desperately missing the live gigs I love so much, but goodness only knows when those venues will be able to re-open and, while I’ve always preferred to have a bit of space around me when dancing, I’m not sure the venue owners/promoters will agree. Though I’ve just heard the pubs might be opening up again next month. Not entirely sure how that’s going to work, either. Oops…



Author: Hampton Caught

The rants and ramblings of an ex Deputy Fiction Editor of Woman's Weekly magazine.


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    Liked by 1 person

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