Whatever happens, 2020 will always be remembered as the ‘Year of The Coronavirus’. Life in Beetley was always pretty quiet, but this year it is even quieter.
The population of Beetley, including the hamlet of Old Beetley, is just 1,390. On a busy day, I might see perhaps ten or twelve of those people, and they will mostly be walking dogs. Almost every home here has a pet, and the majority of those are dogs.
On large dog-friendly areas like Beetley Meadows or Hoe Rough, we might be joined by prople from the next village of Gressenhall, or from the nearby market town of Dereham, four miles south. But since returning from a short trip on Tuesday, I have hardly seen anyone.
People here are taking self-isolation quite seriously. Like me, many are only venturing out to walk dogs, or to buy groceries. Even though the schools are not closed until Friday, lots of children have already been kept away from school.
My daily dog walk has become quite strange. Other walkers are keeping a distance, in some cases turning round and walking away from me and Ollie. Over on Hoe Rough today, the sight of us approaching sent one family into an apparent frenzy to avoid walking past us. I felt as if I should have a bell around my neck.
I wonder how long it will be until we have to start painting black crosses on our front doors?