Being in a heightened state of readiness, or not

The in-box is full of directions, instructions, imperatives. What happened to ‘please’ or ‘have you considered?’ They’re all at it – websites, forums, agencies, the bigboy channel managers, the free and not-so-free consultants. Stand out. Get ahead. Catch your competitors napping. Hit the ground running. Make sure you’re Covid-ready.

The problem is that it’s difficult to prepare for the unknown. More of it. Here, in Wales especially, we don’t know what we’re going to be allowed to do, how much of it, with what provisos and restrictions, and when. In tourism and the hospitality industry, the future is still very fuzzy. So it’s becoming beyond frustrating to be harangued continually. What actions are we taking? What announcements are we going to make on our websites and social media? What reassurances can we give our future guests and customers that we are primed and ready to go?

Apart from anything else, these exhortations to us, as business owners, suggest that there’s a huge team of cleaning and maintenance staff here in hazmat suits, raring for the end-of-lockdown whistle to blow. And there isn’t. Our little team has been furloughed. We won’t be calling anyone in until we have the relevant information from the government, and we can look at it, understand the implications and make a plan. Until then, we’re not making guesses or empty promises.

Perhaps I’m not alone in feeling bullied. I’ve always had rather a glass-half-full role in every situation I’ve found myself in – a kind of blend of Heidi and Pippi Longstocking. Today, I’ve let tiredness and grief overwhelm me. But I will be more than ready when it’s time.

Full moons, strawberries and a man with a passion

The full moon was last Friday, 5th June. It’s known as Rose Moon, Hot Moon or, more commonly, Strawberry Moon. It roughly coincides with the start of the strawberry picking season. Ours, growing inside a polytunnel, are just beginning. I checked on them earlier and only snaffled one. Which was pretty restrained I thought.

July’s full moon will be as a Thunder Moon, or Full Buck Moon. But let’s not wish the month away. It’s furlough payroll time again. Another fortnight has passed. There is a little more freedom, but not much. Wales is closed to visitors. We don’t know when business can resume, and in what form. So much we’re waiting to find out.

Recently I was sent some information about a distant cousin, whose existence I was totally unaware of. Theodore Ballantyne Blathwayt was born in England but worked in Cape Town and died in Johannesburg in 1934. It was his splendid name which drew me in to read and find out more.

He was the discoverer of three comets – c/1926 B1, C/1927 A1 and a third whose name I haven’t been able to establish yet. For each new discovery he was awarded a Donohoe Comet Medal and he was elected as a member of the British Astronomical Society in 1929. I came across articles he’d written where his enthusiasm and individuality was palpable.

He spent many nights ‘sweeping’ for comets. He writes that he made his finds using a four inch refractor and an eight inch reflecting telescope. I have no idea whether or not this would still be the kit of choice for a modern comet hunter.

On the difficulties of being green

I’m not referring to the Kermit the Frog song. There was once a TV series called ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’,(or rather three series), set in Cornwall. It followed a family’s renovations of a 400 year old farmhouse, and their ‘green’ journey. For a while this was compulsory viewing in our household. I suppose because we were, in a smaller way, doing something similar. But with the added challenge of trying to create a viable business. And without the film crews!

One quotation from the series was – ‘I don’t want to wear a hemp shirt and hairy knickers.’ I have no idea if hairy knickers are, or have ever been, a thing. I can’t imagine anyone wanting them. But hemp shirts – yes. Some of the nicest, comfiest, most treasured items of clothing I have bought for myself or others have been made of hemp.

Trying to be green, or as green as possible, involves making a lot of mistakes. It’s not a state; it’s a  journey with many minor adjustments en route . And, like everything else here, it involves maintenance. Our two solar thermal systems, (for creating hot water), have been underperforming for a while. There’s been no time or spare headspace for the husband,( or son who lives on the farm), to tackle the complex problems. But time became available on Saturday morning, and the solar thermal systems came to the top of the ‘to do’ list.

The process – which was messy and disruptive as often seems to be the case – involved hoses, ladders, running up and down the stairs in the farmhouse and much male shouting. But after a few hours, the mood was positive. ‘We’re on a solar roll,’ said one of my menfolk.

I’d like to report that the solar thermal was indeed fixed on Saturday morning, but alas, absolute joy was fleeting. All is not quite solved yet, but, apparently, we’re going in the right direction.