When the lockdown was announced New House closed like every other, with the same alternate universe feeling we all had.
Yet being located in the quiet depths of rural Herefordshire, our lockdown experience was probably different to those in towns and cities.
The only amenity we have in our small hamlet is a post box and a bus that (used to) come on a Thursday, so us local’s joked we’ve been self-isolating for years, only didn’t have a name for it until now.
With exercise allowed, my old Claude Butler got some 3-in-1 oil and I started cycling round the deserted country lanes. I often ending up at NHT as this was the only place I could get a cup of tea.
Prior to lockdown, NHT had instigated a rigorous hygiene policy and found advice from our trade bodies, the BBSA and Chamber of Commerce invaluable. Whenever I cycled in the phone still ranging and the emails kept coming in, often from other ‘lone workers’ and from members of the public, and by answering them the volume grew.
NHT is unusual in that amongst our 300-year-old buildings we have our own Post Office. It is true that the postmaster is not always there, but only because his herd of longhorn cattle sometimes take him off-counter.
Our carriers ran throughout, so before long I was busy sending out fabrics, hardware, our lovely trimmings and lots of tea towels. For me, I gained real enjoyment speaking to the many customers and suppliers who phoned, especially as we all had more time to chat.
Sales of our home decor products did well over the lockdown, such as our trims, curtain tiebacks and homeware products.
So, what did I learn from lockdown?
I joke that my bike & I still require relationship counselling as for every minute of pleasure sailing downhill, there’s ten minutes of pain going back up-hill. An old shepherd in his 80’s with a long white beard and tatty jumper often shoots past me and says: ‘buy an electric bike’. Sounds like the voice of wisdom?
However on the plus side by cycling, I’ve watched the world's most beautiful spring turn to summer, wildflowers opening, seen weasels, watched farmers work their fields, heard the cuckoo, observed buzzards and kites, smelled the hedgerows, marvelled at the acrobatic martins and swifts, seen hares run and young fox cubs play. In the past I’d have blasted by in my car and missed all this....
It's said that everyday we learn something and by seeing and appreciating the simple things of life have learnt much.