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XX Notes: Happy to Book Back in to the New Normal After a Cornish Family Holiday

Published on: 18 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2020

Maria Rayner

Maria Rayner‘s observational, fortnightly column from a woman’s perspective…

White sand, blue sea and plenty of rosé, after months of being glued to the computer screen, our family holiday in Cornwall felt as exotic as any desert island, even with the inevitable drizzle. As soon as Boris gave the word, we booked a week on the north coast and crossed our fingers for the sunshine that can transform Cornwall into a tropical paradise.

Of course, there is more to worry about than the weather when holidaying these days. I’d already quizzed my relatives in Cornwall about the temperature of the welcome we may expect and pored over the figures to check that we weren’t either departing from or arriving at a ‘rona hotspot.

The car was packed with a few days’ food so we wouldn’t have to negotiate hostile locals barricading the village Co-op and we left early to avoid what the media was predicting would be a mass exodus from the Home Counties. My brother sent a Photoshopped picture of the A30 being guarded by anti-tank guns. I admit to being apprehensive… and I’m Cornish.

So how is it in the West Country? I’ve had so many Surrey friends asking me that I feel the need to broadcast it in The Dragon.

Back to Kernow, having survived the anti-tank guns.

Our first night coincided with the pubs re-opening. We had decided to lay low but when we realised we didn’t have any hummus in which to dip our crisps in my husband thought a trip to the corner shop would be quite an adventure. He came back successful, brandishing his trophy like any big-game fisherman. No locals with pitchforks just happy welcoming smiles.

It was the same in the bars, cafes and restaurants. Local businesses are so happy to see the holidaymakers back and for most of the waitresses and bar staff, it is back to work and earning money.

There are new rules to remember: a cafe in Newlyn, where I stopped for a glass of wine and a plate of calamari when visiting my sister, had a rigid layout of tables, sign-up track-and-trace sheets and a bottle of clearly labelled hand sanitiser on every table, next to the condiments.

Calamari wine and sanitiser. Yumm!

Our favourite restaurant has Plexiglass screens between diners. Another bar let customers sign their own names and phone numbers. Apparently, Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and Donald Duck had all visited that night. Next time we risked a coffee there the procedure had changed and the server was taking customer details. We are all learning.

Back from holiday was also back to work for me, and not in front of a screen but to real bricks and mortar building. When I’m not moonlighting on The Dragon, I work for Surrey Libraries in various locations, including Guildford.

To protect customers and colleagues we are bubbled in smaller working groups, like many businesses around the country, and staying in only one library. Suddenly I have found myself on the other side of the Plexiglass and it’s an interesting experience.

The first question is: mask or no mask? My instinct was to wear one, but as library assistants we spend a lot of our time talking to the people. Wearing a face covering can hinder communication, especially with those who are hard of hearing who tend to read lips, whether they are conscious of this or not.

How about a visor? On a trip to the Ladymead shopping complex, most sales staff were wearing them and I think I will investigate what Facebook Marketplace has to offer because this could be a good compromise. Happily, our customers are delighted we are back open and a good majority of them wore their own masks when they visited.

And from Monday(?) the government has taken all the guesswork out, making masks mandatory for all shoppers. We are generally following retail rules, but please check our website for details

While you are there have a look at some of the online offer. Newspaper apps, e-magazines and e- audiobooks have been really popular since March. The Facebook live Rhymetimes and craft workshops have been so popular that Surrey Libraries now has its own YouTube channel. And, if you are shielding, it is so easy to join online.

But if you really do prefer to flick through paper pages, now that some of our libraries are open again, we are starting to deliver to homes via the Library Direct scheme. Give your library a call, we’ve missed you as much as you’ve missed us. This was one occasion where it was a pleasure to return from holiday.

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Responses to XX Notes: Happy to Book Back in to the New Normal After a Cornish Family Holiday

  1. Martin Giles Reply

    July 30, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    There will be no XX Notes this fortnight as Maria Rayner is on holiday.

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