Our friends Thomas and Hilary live on a boat with their two children. Their on-board lav had packed up and for some reason we had their back-up thunder-box — so we went down the road to give it back.
They live, as you would expect, on the river, and after our socially-distanced conversation I took a short stroll. The view of the Waveney near their mooring is pretty familiar to me — but all the same, it hit me like a physical shock. I may have gasped out loud.
It’s a generous river at this point, not far from Lowestoft, reed-lined with Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s glorious Carlton Marsh on the far side – and with it, all the sky a person could reasonably ask for. Norfolk sky at my back and Suffolk sky all before me.
It was a day of low cloud and light rain. There was a passing cormorant and a few swifts overhead. High, high, a pair of marsh harriers, cruising over the marsh together, far too high for serious hunting. Perhaps they were just enjoying the cheery wind, each other’s company and the thought of all those young beaks on the ground that would need feeding again soon.
But it was the river and the sky that got to me. We have been counting blessings on a daily basis: being locked down at our place with a few gorgeous acres of wild Norfolk is not the most terrible thing that ever happened.
But these were different acres, with a slightly different sort of wildness. It was as if my mind could make a sudden dart for freedom: and I hadn’t felt the slightest bit restricted before. It was a moment of wild liberation.
If it was like that for me, what must it be like for people who have been far more shut up by this damn virus that I have been? Because even for me, it was as if I had never known there was such marvellous stuff in the world.