• Written by Colin Wilde
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I started writing this piece over Easter Weekend and then lost my flow, so I apologise for the lumpiness in the prose that follows as I try to pull my thoughts together.

Throughout the CV-19 situation, I have found myself trying to collect and process my thoughts while surrounded by a myriad of information and questions, coming in from all directions. Each seems to unfold to evoke further thoughts and emotions, while many of the latter are my own and have often proved unanswerable at this stage.

It is very difficult to put into words. My thoughts and ideas seem to change like the tides; each is different with the ebb and flow. So, what better time for a blog?!

I couldn’t help but think what opening line that Charles Dickens would use for this blog piece in times such as these so I will use The Tale of Two Cities as my inspiration. Perhaps it would probably go something like this:

It was the end of the World that we lived in, it is the beginning of the World in which we will now live.  There was nothing to do, there is everything to do. The Castle Rock family is apart, the Castle Rock family is together.

It’s Easter weekend now and the sun is blazing down as I sit on a deck chair in Alice’s Allotment Garden (find it on Facebook). It’s usually a quiet place to listen to bird song, reflect on the previous week, and give some thought to what will unfold in the next. The chimes of the Little John bell ring clearly over the city of Nottingham every fifteen minutes. When I’m not on digging duty, this is a good place to think.

On a Saturday like this, I would normally feel a mixture of pride, privilege and thankfulness. A sunny Easter Saturday means that we are through the doldrums of the perennial dark winter months; the warmer days and lighter nights would mean our pubs are finally come into blossom. This would be the busiest day of the year so far.

But today isn’t today.

I do, however, still feel pride, privilege and thankfulness.

The pride comes from knowing how much hard work goes on behind the scenes, to give us the opportunity to do what we do best. Day in and day out, our customers give us the opportunity to be their hosts, to be the keepers of their safe spaces. I feel pride, too, in knowing that my colleagues are still trying to provide that respite for their customers, putting colour into these strange new routines and ways of life.

The privilege and thankfulness come from knowing that you, our customers, have many options in how to spend your time and money. Patronage is something we never ever take for granted, and even in its absence, I am thankful.

Sitting in the sunshine, relaxing by the canal, soaking up the pre-match nerves with a pre-match pint, taking a break from the hullabaloo in a quiet corner, a pint of Harvest Pale in the lunchtime sunshine…how we all live for today.

But today isn’t today.

Today is a day of mixed emotions. I find comfort in knowing that, for once, the hardworking Castle Rockians finally have a day of rest. Knowing that we are all helping keep people safe brings solace and centres my thoughts. It is tinged with sadness, remembering that those moments of happiness we could have enjoyed together are ones that we will never get back, and that some will not have the chance to make happy moments again. Many people will not see their loved ones again, and my heart goes out to them.

As a business, there was no real way to plan for something like this. New and unanticipated problems unfolded faster than we could solve the previous ones, and no doubt there will be many more difficulties for us to face. We have spent lots of unseen hours trying to weather out this storm.  What makes me most hopeful is that our inner core values and strengths – ones that we have never been able to capture in words – have shone brightly throughout all of this.

These are the things that have always existed, even if we didn’t know it. These are the things that have shown who we really are and what we care for, and which demonstrate our real purpose. We can ensure our future is uplifted by the knowledge that we did the right things, here and now. And we can work to always remember the lessons we are learning during this.

I am both proud, privileged and thankful to be part of the Castle Rock family. I am proud of what we did yesterday, and proud of what we are doing today to look after each other and our customers.  If we can all stay safe, then I am excited for the future that we’ll be able to share together.

Perhaps the worst has happened, but perhaps the best is yet to come.

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