‘May you live in interesting times’, a Chinese saying for a Chinese virus. A strange time indeed. Staunton has been almost as quiet as when I first walked through the grounds exactly seventy years ago.

We have not closed the car park or foothpaths, and in the last few days I’ve seen a small but increasing number of walkers, runners and cyclists using the track on the far side of the lake. The Nurseries are closed, as is the Ferrers Centre, except for the Staunton Deli, which stocks a wide range of provender and has been a lifeline for people living locally.

We have furloughed half of the estate staff, leaving Mrs B in charge of washing, cleaning, cooking and gardening. One of our foresters is at home looking after the baby because his partner works at the local surgery. That leaves plenty of work for the others, now that the drier weather allows us to get to the big trees felled by the first gale. We are also delivering logs, and cutting up more to dry for next winter.

Up at the farm by Deerpark Holiday Lodge we have two cows still to calve and three quarters of the ewes still to lamb. One of our guys is living at the Lodge to be on hand through the night. Meanwhile I keep working via email and phone from my office at the end of the kitchen table.

It is my belief that for most people this lockdown must be eased within the next two week. The quality of life is being sacrificed for quantity, and us old’uns should be left to take our chances. An effete society has been dealt a sharp shock, and there will be an upside to it if we are not constrained for too long.