Closed Doors

Nicholas Quirke was always happiest when he had a plan of action and on 30 April 2020, with China’s Labour day holiday which was 5 days from the 1st of May, Peng presented him with a plan of activities for the coming week. it was not going to be ideal in Beijing with the crowds out as attempts to book spaces at resorts and attractions was proving. But with his new certificate of health in his hands, getting around and into places would be possible. Added to that was the run of glorious weather that was predicted and today was no different with a high in Beijing of 37 degrees. This was hot and he was going to have completely rethink his wardrobe as it meant shirts and shorts, something that would work with his planned visit to Zhongshan Park, which he had repeatedly failed to get to. When he did finally set off in the blazing sunshine he could sense the shift in atmosphere almost immediately. The locals all looked relaxed and happy and indeed was reflective of anywhere in the world where the sun shone and the energy for misery was dissipated. The ride to Tiananmen Square was so familiar now and he was going to have to breach the security to get to the National Museum there to book a ticket, which was not possible for him as a foreigner to achieve Online. Armed with his documentation the process seemed easier and more fluid than with his health kit, though as Beijing was getting ready to lift more restrictions, now it had downgraded the alert level from 1 – 2, it wasn’t surprising there was a more carefree air. With Labour Day celebrations happening the next day the square and Tiananmen gate had been decorated with flags, fountains and a large portrait of Sun Yat-sen, A Chinese philosopher, physician, and politician who served as the first president of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang. The ticket office was shut, so instead he went under the bypass to the Zhongshan park, walking past the fountains in full flow, a sight he had never seen to the Park entrance which he couldn’t get entry to as he needed to have booked the day before. Well he could still sit and sketch in the Temple gardens next door, except they were closed. Despite the opening up of Beijing it was now very difficult to go anywhere without a ticket as to keep numbers down everything was ticketed and bought the day before. The spontaneity of his daily life was changing. He briefly sat and drew Tiananmen before cycling back home to escape the now blistering heat. The community gardens were still undergoing a spring clean with the delivery of new plants and the spraying of the trees. He managed to catch Harvey online and they had a FaceTime chat.which lifted his spirits. And he was delighted too to see Grace and Rocco in good health and surviving the lockdown. They finished the action packed movie extraction and then to sleep in the overwhelming heat.

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