My family’s first steps out of lockdown and our apprenhension – Jayne Dowle

WE’VE got the roadmap from the Government. We’ve marked the significant dates on the calendar. We’ve weighed up the risk of booking a foreign holiday and decided against it, for the time being at least.

Thornwick Bay is a poular location on the Yorkshire coast for many familes. Photo: James Hardisty.

Thornwick Bay it is again then, but we’re not complaining because this is the Yorkshire coast at its best.

However, are we ready for life as we emerge from lockdown? I’m not sure.

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According to the Office for National Statistics, most of us have been positively tearing it up since the easing of restrictions began in early March.

Will crowds return to coastal towns like Scarborough as the lockdown is eased? Photo: Simon Hulme.

From April 7 to 11, some 95 per cent of adults reported leaving home in the previous seven days for reasons such as visiting a park or local green space, travelling to a beauty spot, beach or landmark, or collecting take-away food or drinks.

I’m curious. I still have to steel myself to go to the corner shop, so I have to admit that I found the prospect of going away, even for a few days, confusing and stressful.

I know I should be rushing across the cliff-tops like Maria gambolling over the mountains in The Sound of Music, but instead I feel like putting my hood up and hunkering down in the caravan just in case Boris Johnson changes his mind and shoos us all back into our homes again.

The first hurdle was the date. With our questionable grasp of forward-planning we took the plunge and booked last autumn, for April 9 to 12.

There were long queues outside Primark stores last week as the high street reopened.

Typical. Three days before lockdown restrictions eased and it once again became legal to stay away from home in self-catered self-contained accommodation.

Thankfully, we were able to re-organise our trip, and if all has gone to plan, we’ll be coming home this morning as you read this.

That was the easy bit. I’m known for adopting a belt and braces approach to most things, but organising a much-looked-forward-to few days away in the post-lockdown April sunlight requires levels of anticipation I had not encountered before.

It didn’t bode well when my teenage daughter and I made a pre-trip dash to Primark to stock up on essential clothing items. Nothing glamorous or indulgent. Socks, leggings, T-shirts, mostly.

We waited until Thursday afternoon because we’d heard that the queues earlier in the week stretched out of the shopping centre. We huffed and puffed our way around the store. I was hot in my mask and my glasses started steaming up so much I had to ask Lizzie to read the size and price labels. I wondered for a brief and sobering moment if I would ever actually enjoy going clothes shopping alone whilst mask-wearing rules remain in place.

It was hardly a fun retail experience, made even more stressful by a man I took to be the store manager telling off severely a group of school-girls around Lizzie’s age for apparent infringement of social distancing rules.

I know he has a job to do, and a tough, public-facing one at that, but it made me sad to witness this particular little power-trip. Is this the way it has to be now?

Oh, to be carefree, I thought yet again, as we packed up the car to set off. In the past, my family used to laugh at me for taking the slow cooker containing a ready-prepared chilli every time we went away on a self-catering break. They don’t now, having endured one too many evenings away from home during restrictions when we’ve ended up eating crisps because we couldn’t get a take-away.

I remember when one of the great pleasures of going away was the chance to escape routine and clock-watching. Wander a while and see where the day took you, and hopefully to one of the many food and drink establishments which Yorkshire is so rightly renowned for.

Not this year. If you don’t organise yourself to book a table ahead in a restaurant or pub, you’ll go hungry and thirsty, unless you have a fall-back plan. Hence the chilli.

If T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons, I feel as if I’m meting out mine in text message confirmations.

I’ve seen people whooping with joy because they’ve managed to bag an outdoor table for six (all from the same household of course). I know that the excitement is excellent news for the beleaguered hospitality industry, but I just feel sad that these days, fun has to be confined to two-hourly slots.

I know that all of the above sounds like a long litany of first-world problems and that we are fortunate to be going away at all. Many people have had their lives turned completely upside down by the pandemic and won’t be going anywhere at all. And I know that we all have to be thankful to be alive when almost 130,000 people have died from coronavirus. Still, I can’t help but wonder what kind of life we will be living this year – at home and away.

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