ermine egging on the economy

Monday 15th June was allocated to opening non-essential shopping in England, and it seems to have gone down a storm. Boris would like a word with y’all

Boris, me old buddy, the prospect of 10% unemployment1 is heading towards these punters you’re exhorting to shop with confidence. Isn’t it better to shop with confidence you will have a job to pay for your consumerism first? Not sure I’d start with Westfield either, I don’t have fond memories of my last visit to Westfield – a food desert of overpriced junk.

Nevertheless, we decided to go egg on the economy the Ermine way, so we headed off to the South Coast. Mrs Ermine wanted to swim in the sea. She was much taken with it – on the south coast you can see some depth into the water, which is a step up from doing that in the North Sea, which is pretty murky.

Personally I can’t understand the attraction – you get salt in your hair and sand everywhere. I am a weak swimmer, however, and when I hear this sort of thing then I just don’t fancy my chances at all.

Indeed Mrs Ermine started talking of rampant consumerism – she is thinking of getting a snorkel and fins. I was picturing this sort of thing and wondered if that’s really a kindness on a public beach. Suppose it’s one way of encouraging social distancing


Apparently she means flippers. That’s future consumerism. We had more immediate requirements for consumerism, and dropped Β£60 on this,

a whole lobster in halves

and mighty fine it was too. We got to eat it on a table, but we had to provide that and the eating irons ourselves – we had it in our camper van in the National Trust car park. Call me timid, but I think trying to wrangle half a lobster on one’s knees using a blunt wooden fork could easily end up a tragic waste of fine seafood.

Although we were doing our bit for Britain, personally I think that hospitality is toast. This sort of thing is all very well in midsummer, but it’s going to suck bricks in winter

physically distanced queue to get chow is OK in summer…

plus there’s still rent and maintenance on the buildings that you can’t turn a profit on. Sure, you need the kitchens, but there’s a lot of wasted space on the eatery. Perhaps they will have got that sorted by Autumn, because al fresco dining in the rain isn’t the cheeriest prospect in the world. Margins seem razor-thin in the restaurant trade. Second-hand catering equipment and premises will probably be very cheap next year, perhaps it is down to a new generation of restaurateurs to build the new world out of the ashes of the old.

We did research this because we didn’t want to do a Weston-Super-Mare to the people of Dorset. This was a smaller site, and the National Trust seem to be OK with visitors. They make bank on the car parking charges at Β£6 a day πŸ˜‰

people were spaced out fine, this is not Weston-Super-Mare

We are toying with the idea of switching allegiance from EH to the National Trust to get the member parking rates, as there are more locations in the region where member parking will let us recoup the cost of membership, and this next year is going to be more one for day trips like this rather than going further afield. Pity that EH and the NT aren’t the same thing, but I’ve already had that grouse. Fortunately either get you into Stonehenge and the Avebury car park. I figure we will get better value out of our small camper van over the next couple of years,

The sun glinting off the sea, and the softness being an object lesson that f22 is diffraction-limited. I was trying to push the shutter speed down to 1/50th which is the integration time of the human eye to get the sparkles of the sun to look right. Still looks nice though, and no shark fins. The light on the Jurassic coast sea has a lovely character

Post-lobster it was time to climb up to the top of the cliffs overlooking the sea, and look at Bind Barrow. The field was grazed by cattle, and on observing a pizzle we decided that this was going to be a short visit. It could have been a bullock, but without binoculars it’s a tough call πŸ˜‰

the face mask conundrum

One of the pictures from that FT article shows me that despite Boris’s exhortations I may struggle as a meatspace consumer in the coronavirus economy

Oxford Street face masks

because I have an irrational but visceral yuck reaction to face masks. It’s not the same as Donald Trump, who thinks it’s unmanly. I’ve never had trouble with this sort of thing at the dentist, but on the street I am not sure I want to be there, because it really really highlights that every human I meet might be the invisible enemy. I am perfectly capable of understanding that this is a social good and is mainly there to protect the observer. But hell, it’s just how I feel, and I don’t have to go on public transport, and if it is mandated, I don’t need to go where other humans are for my shopping. I don’t want the visceral feeling of being surrounded by the enemy. Maybe I can jump over it, but at the moment I just don’t want to move around in a world of masked people. If the experience is going to be that intimidating than I will go full Solarian and order stuff online.After all, if we are going to be replaced by AI robots we all have to start sometime…

Oddly enough I can cope with seeing this sort of thing without any trouble

although it looks like riot-shields lite. Shopping was never really my thing. I can live without physical shopping if necessary.

  1. PriceWaterhouseCoopesr UK Economic update page 13 

37 thoughts on “ermine egging on the economy”

  1. Looks like you had a great day out – we’re really missing the seaside this year. I’ve never enjoyed using public toilets, and even less so now. Carrying one around with you in a campervan is a big win in that regard!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. By a strange coincidence I was listening to the B52s “Rock Lobster” this afternoon. Mind you the lyrics don’t exactly describe my ideal day at the seaside. We on this side of the Bristol Channel still have detention so I can only look with longing at your extravagant ways ( although I was disappointed not to see a bottle of chilled Grand Cru Chablis on that table. )

    Liked by 1 person

      1. “we still can’t stay overnight until the 4th July”

        How definite is 4 July?

        I’m missing my narrowboat so much! Normally by the end of May we’ve spent at least 30 nights on it. This year it’s been 5 and none since mid-March. We normally manage about 6 weeks on it in July/August so I’m really hoping to be able to go back from early July.


  3. there’s a wee place that sells seafood like that on the south coast (of Fife) near us.
    Based on your prompting, I checked and they are open! Take away only of course.
    So, next time the weather gets good, we’ll see if we can drive down.
    Buckets and spades in tow and maybe a bit of salt in the hair and sand between our toes on the way back!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I live in Japan where masks have been the social norm for years, and had the same face-mask aversion. I even self-righteously quoted the WHO, NHS, and CDC with their “No evidence of effectiveness” stance until Nassim Nicholas Taleb convinced me of the wrongness of my reasoning, and then all the institutions changed their tune. Now I just wear one and even feel weird without it. You wouldn’t cough in public without covering your mouth, so don’t go breathing all over other people’s space. It’s not treating each other as the enemy, it’s mutual respect. Just wear a mask!

    P.S. Long time lurker first time commenter.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Good to hear that it’s possible to shift πŸ˜‰ I absolutely respect the logic, specifically that it protects others from you, not you from them. But at the moment it’s a gut thing, and so far I can electively choose to avoid such situations. Which is a more fundamental way of protecting them from the potential hazard of me.

      It might be something I can jump over in time. Or not – at the moment it’s a battle I am going to try and dodge. If it’s mandated then I will either do it, or avoid. I’m not of the view that my personal freedom to be a twit trumps public health requirements, unless I live with forty acres of land at all points between me and my nearest neighbours, which isn’t that case πŸ˜‰


    2. Me too. Used to laugh scornfully at masks, but I’ve changed my tune now. Can’t think of any other explanation for how well Japan has done, and now it feels weird not to have a mask on outside, and weird to see the (pretty rare) person without one in public.


  5. Shopping for most people is a leisure experience.

    Shopping with queues, face shields, gloves, etc. is about as much fun as an enema.

    UK economy is consumer and services heavy. Expect a big recession just as the OECD forecasts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like to see that as well.
      I had a 6m motorhome (Roller team 590) four years ago. I loved it apart from the fact that buying it coincided with me losing my long sight. I’ve never got on with driving with glasses and trying to get a wide vehicle down the roads of Dorset was no fun. It also coincided with me discovering the job of cruises (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it) so I decided to sell up after a year and ‘only’ lost Β£4k.

      Now that flying looks to be a no-no for a few years I and seriously thinking that maybe a small motorhome may be an option. Tried a VW Camper but the bed was just too narrow even with a very slim wife.


      1. Ours is a Romahome Hylo like this one. The bed is king size but takes the full width, if I am using it on my own then I can just use ~1/3 width ie the bench which means I can leave the table rigged on t’other side. It’s low enough not to have aggravation with getting into car parks and not much wider than a car. It is based on a Berlingo van chassis.

        But you don’t have headroom, except in the galley area at the back. It’s good for getting out into the wilds, and for sound recording in natural places, getting to prehistoric sites in the out of the way parts, and the start of trails. It’s also good for messing about with amateur radio because of the 12V leisure battery, and the ability to get away from all the RF noise of the city.

        We’ve had it for over 10 years now. Certainly if you favour using campsites or there are more than two of you (even if the +1 were a hound, not that I am keen on canine company) then it might be on the small side. Sometimes I’ve wondered, if we were to replace it, if we would get something bigger as we get older, but so far I don’t feel the need. And I’m looking to hang on to it for a few years yet, until it’s clearer what happens/where the market is going with electric traction as opposed to IC engines.

        It’s also our only vehicle. I read ignitingFIRE’s electric car article and if they came down a bit it could swing it for a second motor, but the trouble is the competition is a Β£500 junker with 9-12 months MOT that could be scrapped after a year if there were a short term requirement for two vehicles. And it doesn’t come up that often.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Many years ago, we (my retired parents and myself) jointly bought a nice new 4 berth motorhome in order to get out and about around the UK for extended holidays. This mainly turned out to be around the Lake District and Scotland with occasional visits to bits of Wales too. All very enjoyable – don’t regret a minute of it BUT I fear it’s a case of every man and his dog seems to own one now. We used to be able to wild camp in some wonderful areas of the country but that’s become far less acceptable these days, partly due to sheer numbers and partly due to recent behaviour on the part of some people I guess (this was true pre-COVID). There was always something really wonderful about waking up in the morning, peering through the blind/curtain at a terrific view, sticking the gas kettle on the hob and rubbing your hands in eager anticipation of another mini-adventure in high places …

        We sold ours about three years ago for two reasons. The first was that we simply weren’t making enough use of it in the end. I’ve seen loads of them around here that seem to stand on people’s driveways for month after month after month. It could just be me, but it just looks like (at least for some owners) it’s become the last word in expensive white goods which compete for your time, money and attention generally. Whilst we had ours we did use it quite a bit but it can easily become the “spend months left with a CTEK charger plugged into it” vehicle – good point actually, since left to it’s own devices it can turn the main vehicle battery into a bloody heavy and expensive paperweight in less than three weeks ! It happened to me and, from reading the forums, loads of others too.

        Anyway, the second reason we sold it was that it had reached that age where you just know it’s on borrowed time as regards the yearly water ingress/habitation checks. Sure enough, we got a problem with a small leak up in the over-cab/side-meets-roof sealant. Why can’t they manage to engineer a decent weather-proof solution after all these years of making the bloody things ? Whilst getting it properly sorted by the same guy who did the yearly checks (very good indeed), he just happened to mention that the plywood used in pretty much all motorhomes seems to be just your regular stuff, and not marine grade. Well, for stuff that’s well protected from the weather in walls and roof maybe that’s okay-ish, but I was shocked at the idea of that being the case for the floor as well ! Given pretty much everything else is built on top of that (and it’s subjected to road dirt, etc from below), what the hell happens if that delaminates and needs replacing ?! Fortunately, ours never exhibited that problem, but the decision to sell it when we got it back again became a total no-brainer after that revelation. I wouldn’t rule another one out completely BUT I would certainly go in with a massive Q&A checklist next time concerning construction/durability. I got to know ours in quite some detail by the time we sold it.

        It’s a shame about wild camping getting such a bad rap at present because we always operated on the basis of “take nothing but photos and leave nothing but foot prints” (or possibly tyre tracks on a wet hard surface at worst :-))

        Enjoy yours (responsibly, of course :-)) whilst it’s still possible because the no overnight-ing signs are springing up all over the place, whether because of previous incidents or just the way we all seem to be with each other these days. Pity, I miss Lakeland in particular – had some great (long and energetic) days out walking on the Fells, in surprisingly good weather for the most part too.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I struggle with the mask thing. It is changing society, making people fearful of one another. As a child I grew up sharing germs with others and presumably my generation has better immunity than the cossetted one we are creating now.


  7. I hear you about those dam’ facemasks. I have to wear one today to get a haircut. That should be fun. My glasses fog up, my hearing aids fall out – deaf and blind in the bargain.
    Restrictions are easing a bit here in rural Ontario – although Toronto is still in lockdown. It is possible to eat on a restaurant patio now but no inside dining as yet. Given my distaste for heat, humidity, and wasps that won’t be on my agenda any time soon.
    Churches have reopened but it’s like a visit to the dentist. Only about 30% capacity allowed anyway. And it’s risky.
    As far as shopping goes, you gotta wear a mask, stand in line and observe one-way routes just to get your weekly ration of milk and bread. Give me a break.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far we seem to be more chilled on masks, apart from on public transport. We seem more chilled on everything, though British exceptionalism is losing pretty much each battle of the coronavirus fight IMO. Surprise Toronto is still in lockdown!

      > It is possible to eat on a restaurant patio

      I’m struggling to picture how that works with masks πŸ˜‰ Most of my IRL consumerism is probably along the eating and drinking sort, I was happy to order Stuff online before all this, and I’ve got more comfortable with that. But I sure as hell would like to be able to go for a drink with pals, and this lobster was a welcome return to eating out.


  8. Very relieved you had the prescience to pack your port and starboard scran spanners. Whereabouts in Dorset?


    1. The name of the barrow is the key πŸ˜‰ Not that it’s much to see, it’s fairly misshapen. Apparently it was a bowl barrow, but

      The mound was damaged by military activity during the Second World War – the hill makes a good lookout over the bay and there is a brick pillbox a few metres to the west.

      I’m quite taken with that coast, will do more of it once we can use campsites. Probably along with every other bugger. I’d been hoping they would open the schools over what would have been the summer holidays to catch up and keep ’em out of our way. Fat chance- I figure it’ll take ’em all the way to September to work out which way is up.


      1. I’m planning a swim from kbay to durdledoor. It’s going to be a monster. Will have to go full narwhal to stand a chance


  9. Since this is a FIRE blog I’ll tell you the secret of saving money on the National Trust. Take out life membership of the National Trust for Scotland. “Free or concessionary entry to places owned by other National Trust organisations worldwide, including in England, Wales and Northern Ireland”. We’ve used it in mainly in England but also in Scotland, NZ, and Oz. NTS needs your money more than does the extravagantly rich NT.

    It was a marvellous wheeze when we were in our thirties: the gap in price with the NT seems to be much smaller now.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’m very lucky that we have a family tradition of NT memberships. My Grandpa joined quite young in the 1920s or 30s (when I think it was quite a “trendy” cause), and bought my Dad membership when he was small (in the 50s) – and my Dad then passed the favour on to me and my sister. Of course it means I feel I should do the same for my children now (although I believe the discount for lifetime membership was much bigger in the 1970s when I was bought mine!) Still seems probably worth it though: one of the big benefits for me is that we just go more often and do more things/see more places.

    We often find we can break long motorway journeys with a couple of hours romp and tea/lunch/picnic stop at a NT garden – which we wouldn’t do if we had to pay full entry and parking each time! We have had to buy an annual membership for our daughter now but at Β£10/yr that feels quite manageable…

    That lobster looks flipping gorgeous … serious food envy here!


  11. Long time lurker here too. Shopping, Britain’s Hobby, Work to spend/Get into debt. And yes all the people buying cushions (because those are essential cant live without items) will, I suspect, in a few months, be scrabbling around for pennies to feed themselves and wondering what happened. Consumerism and the blatant encouragement to fill our lives with things on a rotation of ‘fashion’ is sad reflection of how easily people can be manipulated.
    Lobster looks lovely…….
    NT membership well worth the price……..
    Swimming in the sea? The best experience you can have. …….
    Masks, I protect you, you protect me. so mutual benefit……..

    Love your blog btw.


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