All for a cream scone with clotted cream….
I have no idea whether masks protect us from Coronavirus, but – if the experts say the balance of probability is that they do – I’m happy to go with the flow. That said, constantly putting the things on and off was the least memorable thing about our recent visit to the UK.
I’m not sure it can be healthy to breathe in through your nose the carbon dioxide you have just emitted from your mouth. There were times it felt so claustrophobic I was convinced I’d get the bends when I finally took the mask off and came up for air.
During our time in the Cotswolds we visited the famous Burford Garden Centre. It’s huge and covers an area roughly the size of the Isle of Man – well, Ramsey at least. At its heart is a very nice café selling enticing artisan foods all produced on site. As you approach it there’s a sign saying – ‘Expect to wait around 25 minutes. It sounds a lot we know, but it’s worth it!’
The delay has nothing to do with the number of people wishing to use the caf, it’s all about complying with the strict anti-Covid guidelines. We entered the process, but soon wished we hadn’t. I reckon Alec Guinness’s endless trek across the North African desert for a cold beer in the wartime epic ‘Ice Cold in Alex’ was less of a faff than trying the get a cream scone at Burford.
Step 1 – A short chat with a nice lady who took down various details for track and trace etc.
Step 2 – Register details onto an app, which needed to be downloaded onto the phone.
Step 3 – Obtain a QR Code. QR stands for Quick Response. You see them on all sorts of things. They are black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background. The idea is you hover your phone over the squares and it hoovers up all sorts of information.
Step 4 – Move towards the food serving area, show your phone with the black square thing on it to another nice Lady.
Step 5 – When told to do so approach the food area and pick up a tray. Wearing a mask order your food from a Lady across the counter also wearing a mask. Be prepared to state your order around four to five times as neither of you can understand each other talking through a mask. Proceed with your food and coffee, even though you asked for tea into the dining area.
Step 6 – Find a place to sit and enjoy your food.
By the time we sat down I’d lost both my appetite, and the will to live. The clotted cream for my scone had become un-clotted, and the coffee I hadn’t asked for, had plummeted to the same temperature as Alec Guinness’s beer. We were surrounded by elderly people, some even older than us. Most were ready for a nap after the epic journey into the inner sanctum of the café.
At the conclusion of our refreshment break we had to exit the café. It involved another queue, all appropriately spaced for health and safety, in order to once again brandish the square box thing on our phone over a camera device. Needless to say, it involved a five- minute tutorial for each diner…., from another nice Lady.
In the Garden Centre’s defence I’m pleased to report that I didn’t get Coronavirus. But, on the downside, I did require counselling.
I guess the reason for my little story is to reinforce the point that we shouldn’t take the freedoms we enjoy on the Isle of Man lightly. I’ll count my lucky stars when we next visit a café or go for a pint in a pub. That could happen as early as next weekend when we finally emerge from house arrest.