Family & Education

It’s time to brave the great outdoors

Holidays are now allowed - and Judy Silkoff is prepared


It’s not easy coming up with a topic for a column when you haven’t been anywhere, seen anyone or done anything for the best part of four months. Since lockdown began, I can count the number of trips I’ve made out of the house on my (sadly, still unmanicured) fingers and even have a few of them left over as spare change. My last trip to an actual real-life shop was in March and, apart from a few trips to drop off necessary packages to my parents, grandmother and daughter, and a couple of ill-fated tempts to take a socially-distanced early morning walk (the zigzagging away from other people quickly grew tiresome), I haven’t been further than the wheelie bin at the edge of my front garden. The word institutionalised springs to mind.

Indeed, if asked whether I’ve managed to use the lockdown period to acquire a new skill or hobby, I would be sorely tempted to say my proudest achievement has been working out how to get absolutely everything I could possibly need delivered directly to me, without having to put so much as a toe outside my front door.

Admittedly, my long history of chucking huge portions of my income at Ocado has had a lot to do with my success on this front. When other people were desperately trying to secure online supermarket slots in the early days of quarantine, I was, slightly shamefully, apparently considered to be a priority customer and entitled to a weekly delivery almost from the very beginning. Amazon, too, has been making very regular stops chez Silkoff and I even managed to find an app that allowed me to book a car wash, right at the kerb outside our house.

As for exercise and sunlight — my stationary bike, pilates download, and a daily vitamin D tablet have all that covered nicely, thank you very much. I even ordered us a supply of disposable face masks via a new app I found — not that I’ve had cause to use a single one. Fresh air with a side helping of Covid-19? None for me please.

Now, you may say this all sounds rather paranoid, and you may well be right, but I genuinely haven’t missed the outside world one bit. Zoom calls with friends and family have done very nicely for socialising and I’ve rather grown to love being cocooned at home with, for company, just my husband and youngest daughter, a laptop and enough chocolate chip banana muffins to feed a small army.

But with lockdown easing and the country opening up bit by tiny bit, it looks as if my corona-cosy time at home come to an end. My husband has been attending a garden minyan ever since restrictions lifted enough for them to be held legally and my daughter has been invited back into school next week, for an entire 20 hours of on-site education to last her until September. Best of all, thanks to the fact that overnight stays away from home are now possible once again, our summer holiday is back on.

That prophet of doom, the BBC, is currently mournfully forecasting a shortage of “staycation accommodation”. But, booked back in November (much to the amusement of friends and colleagues who find my Scout-like tendency to “be prepared”most entertaining), our planned two-week stay in a pretty Somerset cottage has once again become a reality.

The particular cottage was selected with razor-sharp precision. Number one requirement — a kitchen large enough to accommodate all the paraphernalia needed for a self-catering holiday, kosher style (including two slow cookers, a hotplate, sandwich toaster and an urn).

Number two — a location sufficiently isolated so as to minimise the risk of bumping into any members of the tribe and finding the husband being cajoled into making up a minyan.

Number three, top-notch wi-fi and a ratio of televisions to people of at least 1:1, as an insurance policy against the many rainy afternoons that are bound to be a feature of any vacation in the good old UK.

And finally, number four, a lovely local country inn within walking distance, for long, lazy evenings in the pub garden with a glass of something cold and delicious.

Of course, for this particular summer holiday, it’s looking likely that requirement number four may find itself falling by the wayside. Pubs have opened, but only for table service, which is, alas, off the kosher menu for us. And I sincerely doubt our usual order of a half pint of this, a Diet Coke with a bit of that and a glass of blackcurrant cordial for the child will make us viable patrons in these days of social distancing.

So. I’m just hoping that my new-found coronavirus skill may stand me in good stead for the duration of our holiday. Evening drinks direct to the front door? There must be an app for that…

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