I’ve been a little lackadaisical when it comes to bringing you news of the Nursery. I blame it on you-know-what and the anxiety and uncertainty it has brought to most corners of our lives. Apologies.

It’s sunny outside as I peer through my living room window – I’ve been working from home since last March – and there’s a greenish tinge to the treeline on the distant hills. Don’t speak too loudly, but I think Spring is on the way.

So what’s been happening?

The New Year didn’t bring much joy with it: infections were soaring and, whilst we redoubled our efforts to keep everyone safe, we saw our first case of COVID-19 among the staff and four eventually tested positive (two while self-isolating). I didn’t hear of any children testing positive at the time. We closed the Nursery for two weeks because there wasn’t anyone left to open it! But the break allowed the building time to recover and, of course, our girls. Funnily enough, having experienced what we’d all been dreading since March last year, it seems we returned to work feeling slightly more confident about things. It helped that the Bat & Ball Centre had opened its doors as a testing centre and we were all able to test ourselves weekly (we will soon be supplied with home testing kits so we can test ourselves twice weekly).

I thought you might find the graph below interesting. Every setting (nursery, childminder etc) registered with Ofsted must notify them of a case of COVID-19. These figures (the latest published) go up to 1st February.

On re-opening we again redoubled our safety efforts; staff and parents are determined to keep our children as safe as possible. And the children are getting involved too – a Dad told me the other day that his daughter had told him, in no uncertain terms, that instead of sneezing into his hand he should sneeze into the crook of his elbow! Out of the mouths of babes and all that.

I must say, having visited the Nursery at least once a week all the way through the pandemic, the children seem to take it in their stride and most are very happy to be with their friends in familiar surroundings. It is certainly a joy to see them acting like children!

How is the Nursery doing?

The Nursery is doing OK. We lost money last year, but not a huge amount. The support we received from the Government (furlough scheme), Kent County Council (generous with 3/4 year old funding), Sevenoaks District Council (rates) and Sevenoaks Town Council (rent) was unexpected and gratefully received. The support we received from parents, both financial and spiritual, has been nothing short of phenomenal and we thank you all very much. It’s your support that keeps us going.

The trickiest period has been the current lockdown. The more aggressive strain of the virus (from Kent of all places!) has meant a much more restricted Nursery regime, requiring more staff on duty at any one time and a much bigger headache for Madde! She’ll survive, as will we.

Looking at our ‘Admissions Schedule’ I can see that, apart from the Pre-School Room, we are full and will continue to be full. Parents have contracted start dates for their babies right up until November NEXT year. But it is odd that parents of 4 year olds seem to be keeping them at home, presumably until they start school in September.

Coming up

Well, of course, no-one really knows what the future will bring. Boris has laid out his road-map and according to him it’s “cautious but irreversible” and a “one-way road to freedom”. I wonder if the virus will agree. Let’s hope so. Whatever the coming months may bring we will do our best to adapt as needs be.

In the meantime, as the weather begins to improve, we want to get to grips with our garden; the fencing needs some attention as do the grassed areas. We also want to see a lot more colour in it come the summer. So some serious planning is underway.

We missed a few parties last year:- our own 30th (postponed from the year before!), the opening of the new building, Jean’s retirement as Manager, Vicky’s 25th anniversary at the Nursery and Lisa’s 10th. We must aim to make amends as soon as possible!

We’ll be saying “Goodbye” to Shannon later this week. Shannon hasn’t been with us all that long at all, but her caring nature, humour and youthful exuberance will be sorely missed. She’s (ahem) joining the Police force – a very worthy thing to do and almost certainly better paid – and we wish her all the luck in the world. Another excuse for a party!