Spring and the easing of lockdown

Bonnie enjoying the delights of the Sussex Downs in the chilly spring weather

Is it my imagination that spring seems to have arrived a little later this year?

The frosts and nip in the air do not seem to have deterred our magnolia from producing the most wonderful array of flowers and the brilliant white Blackthorn blossom in the hedgerows is especially fine this year against the backdrop of the deep blue skies.

Like our gardens and the countryside around our Sussex towns and villages we too are tentatively emerging after lockdown.

Monday 12th April brought the first day of steadily easing Covid restrictions. People gathered safely and happily outside pubs with British forbearance in the face of the chilly weather. Life began to slowly return to our county’s High Streets.

Bonnie and I were on appointment as we have been throughout lockdown. Our week took us from Arundel to Amberley, Steyning to Worthing, Brighton and Wimbledon. The weather seemed to improve throughout the week and as the blossom bravely emerged so the numbers of people steadily increased.

My little dog Bonnie really enjoyed rediscovering her favourite walks on top of the Sussex Downs which punctuate our days between valuation appointments. And we’ve been popping into our favourite shops across the county to support them.

Rupert Toovey on a valuation appointment in Arundel, West Sussex

It’s funny how quickly we have adapted to a new routine. As I arrive at people’s homes I am still ringing the doorbell running 2 metres back from the door and turning to greet them. It’s important to see a smile and exchange a greeting safely before putting on a face mask and disinfecting my hands. Once inside we perform a Covid dance as we seek to honour one another with social distancing and old fashioned good manners. We move around enjoying each other’s company and the treasures, the windows flung open to the crisp spring breeze.

The online auctions at Toovey’s have been very successful but I have missed gathering the collectors and dealers whose passions for art and objects I and my colleagues share. So I am excited to report that we have successfully reopened Toovey’s auction rooms to the public. We’ve refreshed our reception and valuations spaces for the public to bring their treasured possessions to Toovey’s for auction. For our live auctions next week we’ve put in place hand sanitizers, direction signs, queuing and viewing point mats to ensure social distancing. The numbers of people viewing our sales at any one time will be limited with timed slots available by appointment with masks. Listen to me being excited by Health and Safety but it’s at its best when it’s practical, empowering and keeps people safe!

Providing valuations, viewing and attendance for our sales by appointment is once again proving really popular whilst keeping people safe. And there has been strong demand for our home visit valuation service throughout.

I hope that lockdown will continue to ease and you will join me in supporting our local businesses, theatres, museums, art galleries, churches and newspapers who add so richly to the life of our community. If we do then there will be much cause for hope and optimism.