Opinion: Richard Styles – Staycations and a new normal in a cleaner, fairer and more balanced world

A garden buzzing with life

Ah!  Summer!

Sun, sand, and the water companies bleating about water shortages!

But this year it is different; the coronavirus has thwarted holidaying overseas leaving only the staycation as a viable option, proposed air bridges excepted.

To some it will seem like second best, and probably many of us will know more about Thailand or Nepal, than we know about our own country. I think generation jet set will find exploring our union of four great nations, a revelation.

Now is the time to visit Britain (or it will be when you can stay overnight). There is plenty to see and perhaps it might be worthwhile to go somewhere away from the madding crowd. There is a lot of coastline and many miles of footpaths and rights of way to explore, so no need to be anxious about social distancing when on holiday.

Personally, I am quite happy to stay at home, padding around in the back garden. This year it has been especially glorious, and Marion, my wife, has excelled herself with her green fingered ingenuity, as you can see.

Nature has blossomed this spring as it is not being deafened, dug up, or run over by human beings. While we have all been penned up, the flora and fauna are proliferating unimpeded by our thoughtlessness.

Here in the garden we have seen all manner of wildlife.

We have 2 bats living in our bat boxes, and one of them whizzed past my head the other day, when we were looking for Molly, our cat. They are especially keen on catching the insects buzzing above the pond and fly around the pond in incredibly tight circles, trying to catch a tasty snack mmmm!

Butterflies are having a good year so far, and we have seen several different kinds much earlier than usual. Best of all we have 3 resident hedgehogs. Bearing in mind they are in deep decline in terms of numbers, this is good news.

I know I am exceptionally lucky; I have a nice home and a nice garden. Many do not, which is why I can see why some have gone bomb happy after lockdown ended. It is not thinking of others, but it is understandable in some ways.

I have been reading in the garden, and with the libraries closed (Get them’ open KCC !), normally, Amazon, would have benefitted from my book shortfall, but instead, I have now tried other book sellers like Postscript and Wordery (other booksellers are available) and they’re just as good, but in different ways.

What I am looking forward to is our local bookshops reopening, like Michael’s, in Ramsgate (and all those in Margate). When they open after lockdown, support them; we need all our local bookshops and small businesses to reopen and thrive.

Not going out means you get time to think and I have been thinking a lot, while sitting in the garden.

I have been thinking about where we are all headed and what the pandemic has laid bare within our economy and society.

What do you think of the show so far?

Localism or local action has done well. Volunteering has done even better. But on the obverse side of the coin, our treatment of the old, in their care homes and the risks that the low paid have endured on our behalf, to keep things going, has exposed the inequities that fracture our cohesiveness as a nation.

The NHS has coped, a bit buckled, but unbowed, thanks to the dedication of its staff. Other big centralised bureaucracies have not done as well, and we need to address this problem and change track.

If we do not restore harmony and cohesiveness, we will find it difficult to adjust to the new normal and an unaligned Britain. Constantly controlling everything (or at the moment, perhaps not controlling), from the centre is not the way ahead.

I am not wanting to see the old normal reappear as it was not up to much, when you think about it.

Too many were disadvantaged and too few advantaged, but if we must take a leap into the unknown, let us aim to live in a cleaner, fairer and more balanced world and give communities the tools they need to thrive and prosper.


  1. Brilliant! We must not let the old pre-covid-19 normal return. We need to protest about inequalities more now and fight for the biodiversity in our world along with protecting it from a certain decline and eventual death. Commercialism needs to slow down and go into retreat, look at what is happening to the world,plastics in the foodchain, weather getting more extreme every year, pollution on a much greater scale than ever before, radio and microwaves illnesses from 4g and 5g, increasing need for aviation. So much needs to be done to bring this down. We have had three months of deadly pandemic so far and there is much more to come. The leaders of the world need to be told by us that they are doing a great misdeed to the planet and all on it. If we stay quiet then we are giving our permission for what they do, and a few people in charge should not be allowed to make all the decisions for the 7.6 billion people. It is up to us to take our stand and be counted.
    We have seen how poor the decisions have been during this pandemic. Many thousands could have been saved if better planning and controls had been put in place with proper enforcement. We have been the second worse country hit with a death toll of over 42,500 so far and climbing. It seems that the greedy Tory Government put economy before health always. But just for once they were forced into action by locking down the country to try and stop the spread of the virus, done very poorly mind you. But this measure was soon relaxed.
    I like the sound of birds in the garden because of the quiet streets, the clear skies because of less planes, clear air because of less pollution, the relaxed atmosphere because of less noisy traffic. I don’t want to go back to the old normal, I also prefer this!

    • Not the 99% I know. They’re more informed. Every heard of police suing over illnesses from radio system way back in 2003 and before. Or the precautionary methods on the continent re: mobile phone masks near schools. So much research out there on the issues with some technologies for those with an open mind and intelligence to look at it all.

      • I meant that I agree 99% with Kent Resident’s sentiments, but not the bit about 5G. That’s pseudoscience and quackery, and been debunked over and over again.

  2. Yes the so called ‘lockdown’ (isn’t that prison terminology?) has given us the pause button to evaluate life and also our own lives if we’re brave enough to look at ourselves as well. It’s allowed many to really cherish and observe nature. And for those not lucky enough to have a garden, it’s understandably given them the urge to enjoy the open spaces even more so. Food and the source of our food has taken on a new meaning, as have the local shops, businesses and groups supporting all of this. Some won’t want to buy cheap chemically laced goods from sweat shops again. Let’s look at doing things differently and forget about all the old school political point scoring, without making our own positive suggestions. And looking after our own nutrition and health, and taking self responsibility, has to be part of it all surely. And contributing to our local communities any way we can, rather than blaming others, would make a real difference. Be the change you want to see, and all of that is as valid as ever, and this situation has given us all the opportunity to do things ourselves.

    • Best way to track and trace is by barcode, everyone shòuld need one to puchase anything, the barcode will able to time and locate users anywhere.

  3. The old normal is already rearing its ugly head as people return to work and the national chains and turn their back on the independent local shops who have supported them over the last few months

  4. We do at least half our shopping locally- butcher, baker , greengrocer. Also support (or will, when next given a chance), local restaurants and pubs.

  5. I hate saying this in a way-for all the good reasons stated above- but I LOVE foreign holidays!

    I don’t love flying for all the usual green reasons plus the sheer tedium and tackiness of airports (and nowhere to sit,and they are a long way away and you pay a lot for even remote parking etc etc) but we are lucky here in Kent as we can get the train and be somewhere different and warmer in just a few hours.
    That old saying about travel broadening the mind is mostly true. So I would be reluctant to over emphasise staycatons if only for the weather.

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