I captured the following two photographs yesterday during a visit to the local RHS Gardens at Hyde Hall.
Hyde Hall is a lovely place to visit, with wonderful gardens, expansive grounds and a year-long show of blooms and interesting plants to browse.
We have been RHS members for a while and have spent some lovely days at their grounds (and back in the day at their flower shows such as Chelsea).
This is the first week the RHS have reopened their doors since the COVID pandemic and we managed to book ourselves a space to visit.
We were promised a reduced occupancy and the RHS doing what they could to ensure social distancing.
On arrival the RHS has put a lot of effort into the social distancing with new one way systems, lots of markers on the floors around entrance areas, lots of government regulation signage and one toilet block open with only one person permitted at any one time.
It was clear from the car park that the RHS had opened up to too many people. Instead of a car park with lots of space, it looked like an ordinary day.
The problem got worse when you arrived at areas such as the Vegetable Garden, the Rose garden, the Quiz Mother garden etc.
Understandably these are lovely and people want to see them but it was hard to maintain any level of social distancing.
Even if this was the case it was hard to enjoy the garden. You could not browse or take it in. No sooner did you stop at a flower or point of interest you were conscious someone wanted to get past, you were holding things up or people weren’t social distancing and were starting to fill in the gap within the 2m restriction.
Small children and families also struggled as adults were more interested in their children than anyone else so they congregate in groups and cause blockages for everyone.
Even when out on the meadows for a walk, we kept to one side of the path. The family approaching, the other. Then either a teenager, tween or toddler would then decide to run or make a dash for it and the whole distancing fell apart.
I cannot knock the RHS as they tried and they are following guidelines but our visit simply exhibited to me why social distancing is a problem. 2 metres is an odd measure for people to grasp and some people are so blind or arrogant to the safety of others that it falls apart.
I believe the RHS have to reduce the numbers they allow on-site and/or they have to change the blocks of time to 30-minute slots to spread out the crowds.
I managed a few quick snaps and we did find a space in the meadow for a drink (we took some flasks as all the catering facilities are still shut), but even then we had a family come walking right past us with no distancing.
We gave up. It was nice to be out. It was lovely to be able to use our RHS membership and we were fortunate to have booked a space. Sadly though the public and the actions of others did not make us feel at all safe.
Within an hour we left. We suffered the same process to try and purchase something from the Garden Centre (purchase as it’s not possible to browse).
I was really looking forward to this trip and we both came home deflated. Such a shame.
At least I did manage one rather beautiful shot of this rose.