Somewhere in the English countryside…



This is part of our special Coronavirus Dispatches series, featuring personal essays and local reporting from WONDERLUST editors and writers about our individual communities around the world. 



Beginning of the week: As many cities across Europe become quiet and deserted, not much seems to have changed in the English countryside. People are still walking their dogs and no one’s wearing a mask. 


When asked about the virus someone said, “well, it’s a bit of a drag”.


My friend in Italy says, ‘E un casino!’, meaning, “it’s a mess”.


While we know that fear mongering can lead to mass hysteria, Brits generally stay cool, calm and collected. Last week, citizens received messages via text, email and/or flash desktop notifications from the National Health Service to say basically, ‘if you’re experiencing symptoms, stay home and don’t visit the doctors.’ Hmmm. That’s a reverse psychology wake up call.


I’ve seen only one police car in the past month, and it was a non-emergency, so life is seemingly normal. 


There appears to be an issue with toilet paper in America, but not so in the English countryside. The village supermarket was low two days ago, but not completely out, although the pasta shelves were empty, the tins of tomatoes were gone, as was the tuna fish, and there was no tea! That’s a dilemma in itself for a Brit.


 “It’s a scam,” said someone.


Another said they’d stolen four toilet rolls from work, just in case.




Revisit: Wednesday, March 18 


Drove ten miles through the countryside to a larger supermarket yesterday. Although it was the evening, which I hope factors in, at a large Sainsburys there was no produce except for some loose brussels sprouts, some broccoli, two handfuls of potatoes, a few apples and some unidentifiable exotic fruits. No bread whatsoever, no eggs, flour or Heinz baked beans (another massive dilemma for a Brit…).


The Coronavirus first appeared in the UK on January 31st. As of the morning of March 18, there were 1,950 positive cases from 50,442 people who have been tested. By the end of the day, the total number of deaths from the disease was 104, although the fatalities range from ages 59 to 94 and all were said to have had other health issues.


On the evening news they said, “Don’t travel anywhere in the world unless absolutely essential.” 


Prime Minister Boris Johnson recommended today to “avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”  The village pubs are still open… Schools will be mostly but not completely closed starting this Friday, the 20th.


As of this coming weekend, anyone over 70 has been ordered to self-isolate for 12 weeks. 


Take care of your neighbors, and stock up on raw apple cider vinegar and raw honey and make a tea, and keep drinking it. That’s how I’m going to deal with my cough. 


Stay safe.