The undoubted highlight in what has been a further two weeks of Covid-19 quietude was a surprise test event held at Forest Green Rovers Football Club (FGR) – my team! Test events to ‘test’ the efficacy of running sporting events that are open to the public during the pandemic have been scheduled across several sports for some weeks. Because of the latest surge in infections many have been cancelled but apparently FGR were asked, at short notice, whether they wanted to hold one. They obliged by inviting all their season ticket holders to take part.
Once I knew that my allocated, socially-distanced seat in the stand wouldn’t be in any potential driving rain, I jumped at the chance. In the event, it was a sunny day. The attractive, hilly walk to the ground felt like old times, and the whole occasion was a very exciting break from Covid-19 routines.
There were socially distanced queues for temperature checks and then to get into the stadium. The imposition of face masks muffled my cheers of team loyalty and those of the other 500 supporters. But, not only did was event an emotional highlight, it felt safe.
The game itself was one FGR should have won. However, following two players being sent off (the opposition), a missed penalty (us) and a scorching last-minute-of-injury-time equaliser (us), we had to be content with an eventful and dramatic draw.
Unfortunately, the increasing progress of the Covid-19 infection rate means that this event is likely to have been a one-off. Further attendance of live FGR games feels a long way away again. But I feel lucky that I had a brief reminder of the visceral pleasure of live football in a stadium. (And we didn’t lose!)
As another highlight, Long Suffering Wife’s (LSW’s) mother took us out for a very pleasant lunch (only our second restaurant lunch in 6 months) at The Potting Shed. We also walked to the relatively new Wild Carrot Cafe on the very rural edge of the Parish and have made a few visits to our local and increasingly pandemic restriction-bound local pub.
Otherwise, waking life has been a merry-go-round of walks, day-to-day shopping, meals and catch up television. Outlander (just Series 1 so far) has been our latest TV box set plough-through. That was very watchable except for the rape and torture scenes during which I tended to go off to make my warming evening drink!
There have been a few little frissons of excitement courtesy of nature. I saw my first lizard (other than slow worms) in the garden. We also had a huge dragonfly perch briefly on our garden table. The friendly pheasant is back.
Indeed, the garden continues to be a bountiful pleasure with masses of chard, huge but tasty beetroot, courgettes (of course) and masses of wonderful dahlias from two plants that have survived the cold of the last two winters.
The walled garden we had built three years ago is still laced with lots of white, purple and pink flowers among the tall grasses and shrubs.
Meanwhile, achingly slow progress is being made on a new garden behind and above the house. LSW loves a project and, when the builders have finally completed the terracing and walling, there will be loads of work for us to do to clear unwanted plants (bind weed and hypericum is rife, is hard to eradicate and both LSW and I hate it) and renew the area with new ones.
We are so lucky to have the space to be able to enjoy a garden and enough cash to be able to remodel it. The garden has been such a boon during these weird, pandemic times. It’s such a shame though, that this weirdness will continue, as most of us feared, into autumn, winter and beyond. I look forward to my next sporting test event – whenever that may be – as a sign that these weird times may be ending. Stay safe, all.