Scottish flag on a beach in a country divided
Life,  Random Musings

A Country Divided

Unless you have been living under a rock you will know, by now, that Boris started to lift some lockdown restrictions around about this time last week. I won’t lie. I was a little buoyed by the prospect I might at least be able to take a walk, social distancing, with a buddy. And drive by a garden centre to get some plants. Woo hoo. Hashtag excited!

But the realisation dawned loud and clear as Scotland’s First Minister cried foul. She threw out the new slogan and told us all Scotland wasn’t ready. I do respect that. We shouldn’t lift restrictions willy nilly – but there are some real inconsistencies around the lockdown restrictions up here. For example, I can drive to a DIY store and buy plants, among people, but not to a garden centre. Walk into a supermarket and get flowers – but not a florist.

And that inconsistency was starting to get me a wee bit fed up about the situation. I know it makes no sense to be cross, we are where we are and we have to travel through it to come out the other side. But I just feel as if I am being treated like I am thick and unable to apply a sensible logic to risk management. I was in the water industry once, helping build massive million-pound capital programmes based entirely upon risk. Allegedly I have a degree of intelligence.

I realise that some folk need an instruction manual for even the most basic of tasks – but I feel that somewhere our Nicola has lost touch with some of the logic. There are more risks going for essential shopping at the supermarket than me driving to the coast, alone, with my camera. But because rules are rules, I can’t do it. Besides, the local community would probably slate me for being there anyway. Because lockdown restrictions say you cannot travel for exercise. At least, not in Scotland.

The whole thing has got me reflecting on some of the other inconsistencies – catch up later in this article I wrote today for The Bad Influence publication on Medium. Read more…

Is Tourism Ready To Restart?

The whole thing around community acceptance of visitors got me thinking about tourism too, today. I know! I have been a busy bee.

Since BJ relaxed the rules down in England last week, we have seen an increase in stories and social media posts around residents taking to their cars and driving to their second homes. Despite the lockdown restrictions making it quite clear that you should still only drive locally for a trip out and definitely not cross a border – allegedly people are. And that is creating noticeable anger in rural communities up here in Scotland.

So how will tourism restart? I heard this week that the sector is beginning to prepare for a gradual reopening. Possibly even as early as July/August. Hurrah! But hang on. Just how ready are we to accept visitors to our regions again?

On the one hand hotels, guest houses, accommodation owners are going to be anxious to restart their businesses. Airlines too are talking about how safe travel will be possible. Here in Scotland folk do ‘staycations’ damn well. They head to the coast for a few days. Hop on a plane or boat across to one of the islands. So even if we are not ready to fly abroad, then we may be itching to get away, somewhere, in the UK.

Yet remote communities are currently shouting ‘go home, stay home, don’t bring it here!’ So how is the tourism sector going to get residents ready for the very visitors they need for their economy. Will the fear of infection override the fear of no business?

Because, as someone who is currently sitting on a trip to May Island and Shetland this summer, I am nervous. Not so much about whether it might still go ahead. More about whether, if we are told it’s all systems go, we will be welcomed? I am not at all convinced we will. It leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling. It’s going to take a pretty powerful campaign to reassure everyone that free movement has ceased to carry the big risk we have scared everyone into fearing for the past three months.

One Job At A Time

Onto other things then. I concluded, this week, that my brain is not able to cope with multitasking right now. I am not sure quite what has changed, I have always been good at juggling plates. But you might recall, in my last blog, I mentioned having a lack of motivation, a lack of focus. I felt like I was in a pinball machine. Bouncing off three or four different projects, never settling or completing any.

So I decided to try a new tactic. One job, keep at it until it is finished – move on.

This week, with a very focussed five days, I finally completed typing up my Mum’s 30-year-old manuscript. Phew, that was tedious! I am no speed typist. And it is a pure word for word copy process. I couldn’t even dictate it as it is full of dialect and local names. I tried and ended up spending as long again editing it. It is now finished, ready to have a couple of bits added and then begins the process of self-publishing it. I will probably use Kindle Create. This will be the exciting bit. Although the exercise has left me feeling as if I know the characters themselves like family and already miss them.

Time Still Flies

Is it just me or do the weeks feel as if they are whizzing by just now? I kind of expected time would drag as we face each day looking pretty much the same – but no, on the contrary. My weeks are flying by at the minute.

Having parked the manuscript now for a few days my mind has turned to photography again. I had some fun last weekend doing some processing in black and white. And I think it has got me eager to pick up my camera again. I cannot wait for the day Nicola says it’s okay to drive to the cliffs on the coast. The puffins and gannets await me and my camera.

Puffin head and shoulders

It’s unlikely we will see the lockdown restrictions relaxed on that score just yet. So we have a wee plan this week to do some ‘tandem’ work. Two cameras, two similar locations, a couple of hundred metres apart, at exactly the same time of day. And then compare the activity we see. If we are successful then we will pop some of the results onto our Facebook Page this week. You can follow us [here]

And that finishes my round-up for this week. As always, stay well. If you can move around a little more then use your noggin, as they say. And do feel free to drop a comment below if any of my ramblings this week struck a chord.

Take care x

Marie also writes for Medium as @marietsmith

Any links which take you to my Medium stories, from this blog, are entirely free reads – so fill your boots. Clap too if you feel the urge, because even unpaid reaction helps a story gain traction.

Image credit: Petia Koleva on Unsplash

Footnote – the restrictions mentioned in this article were correct at the time of publication. Things are changing quickly. Readers are advised to check the current guidance and not use this as an indicator of safety during the current situation.

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