89 Not Out: Day 63, Portchester Castle and Social Distancing

S&C contributor and Pompey Politics Podcast host Ian Morris shares his experience of the lockdown, as someone with diabetes. It’s Day 63 and Ian vents his frustration and concern after a visit to a – suddenly very busy – local heritage site, after the government changes guidance on daily exercise and socialising outside.

Monday 18th May, Day 63 of 89.

I do worry.

In the course of this lockdown and during the pandemic as a whole, I have tried to maintain an air of dogged ‘keep calm and carry on’ as I share the emotional highs and lows with you on this blog.

My weekend contained two contrasting dog walks: the first was at a place which had been closed off during lockdown but was now open again. There were a few cars in the car park, and we did the circuit, exchanged ‘evenings’ with other dog walkers at a safe and respectful distance, and it was a rather good start to the weekend.

Then there was Sunday morning at Portchester Castle. This has been a regular destination for Millsey’s walks. In the first weeks of lockdown, it was so quiet. It got a bit busier at the weekend, but yesterday it was absolutely bloody heaving, which turned our walk into a fraught nightmare.

Let’s start with the volume of people. The car park was over half-full whereas before there had been a only a handful of cars. As I go into this rant, I do recognise that this is not my castle and that – based on the new government guidelines – nobody is breaking any rules, but the place was heaving with a heady mix of families sprawling across the path. My wife had to try and manouevre us while factoring in social distancing, remembering that I can’t see the families, and they don’t know I am blind because my dog is running around like a fool off the lead.

And then there were the disapproving picnickers. If you want to lay out a delicious spread on the floor at snout height, don’t pull a bloody face when my dog comes over to investigate. You weren’t here in January when the weather was Baltic, in fact, you weren’t here two weeks ago – so don’t act like I have set my dog onto you in your own back garden.

The whole walk became like a game of Frogger for us, trying to move around the hazards and to retrieve the retriever who is very interested in the floor buffet.

And this is why I worry.

Social distancing simply isn’t possible in a freeform environment. It’s tricky enough in a shop with one way arrows and someone marshalling the queue, but when you release the public into the wilds surrounding an ancient castle it’s a free for all.

Now truth is that I am probably over-fretting as the World Health Organization only advocates a one metre gap and it’s pretty clear an outdoor space presents the least risk, but it didn’t bloody feel like it.

We now have to replan our approach to ensure that the boy gets his exercise, and that I don’t feel the urge to go all Samuel L. Jackson Ezekiel 25.17 on the population as a whole.

I decided a jaunty new haircut might just help.


Not sure about the details of the new guidance? Read it at UK.Gov.

Don’t miss Ian’s diary each day, keep an eye out for new entries here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast. How are you managing the lockdown at the moment? Get in touch with us over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your experiences and any hints and tips you’re finding helpful right now.

Image by Cams from Pixabay.

S&C is managed and operated by a small team who work on a voluntary and freelance basis to run our website, social media and engage with local residents and communities. Like all independent news providers in the UK, we’ve been hit hard by the pandemic and are currently seeking funding to survive.

If you want to find out more about the challenges facing local independent news: visit the #SaveIndependentNews campaign website, get involved with S&C, donate, and help us spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. And if you want to know more about us, click here.