Birthdays in Lockdown…and other things


Today, Tuesday 19th May, is the start of the ninth official week of Lockdown or Day 57 if you’re counting carefully. For some, who voluntarily retreated from the public world on the 17th March 2020, it is Week Ten. One way or another it has been a long time; the clear and beautiful Spring is moving towards Summer; the Solstice is not too far away. Since the announcement last week from the Prime Minister informing us to ‘Stay Alert’ rather than ‘Stay at Home’, some of us have adopted the Meerkat pose and we are fervently gazing around us looking for…something.

In the last seven days, we have moved forwards slowly. The headiness of travelling as far as Felixstowe to Underwood Hardware shop was a curious experience after so many weeks, enhanced as it was by the personal experience of someone fetching an item from the shelf for you to purchase.  A  familiar experience to any child born before 1970 but perhaps less so  until  now.   Birthdays in Lockdown are subtly altered. “Very  average,” said one friend to me  about his, although it’s interesting to note the additional effort supplied from givers of cards, some of  whom have turned their hand to manufacturing charming mementos. Another less familiar sign  of the times, although not unknown.

I think I would be neglecting my duty if I failed to mention one of the affecting stories of this week. The demise of Shaun the Sheep, close companion  to  Blackie the horse,  was recorded and posted on Facebook. Many people posted complimentary   and mournful words about this venerable,  woolly  inhabitant of Trimley St.  Martin. He was a much-loved and looked for person when anyone walked down Thorpe Lane towards the Shore. For many  years he weathered  snow,  sun, rain, hail, mist, gales and passing walkers. If ever there was a Sheep of character, it was Shaun.

Other, less sorrowful posts on Facebook included:

 The re-opening of Food Outlets/the continued take-away  service  of The Mariners/the excellence of  the Roselea and Goslings Farm Shops/Nature photographs/ historic photographs/ footpath observations/ 2 Sisters Arts Centre first of three videos, ‘Literature in Lockdown’/Car and Hairdressing Salon vandalism/Public information  notices/  Stennetts Community  Café cooking classes  and  free  marmalade/ Lost  and found items


Sandra Abbott

 Subtle changes in Lockdown conditions

Tuesday 12 May, no noticeable difference today after Prime Ministers new message to Stay Alert whilst a car ride is permissible in order to take ones exercise. More important to me was Clifford hanging a picture in the kitchen which had been waiting nearly five years! He did an excellent job!

We had a truly wonderful walk along Hill Cottage track, where we saw the white deer, fox and a squirrel inhabiting the filed together, almost oblivious of each other, we stayed several moments admiring the view.

Wednesday saw me helping my 10 year-old grandson with his home schooling, with both parents working, it can be tricky for them. The technological knowledge of the young amaze me! He sent his maths problem via iMessage, then we discussed and solved it on Houseparty!

Later that afternoon we walked the footpath near the fishing lakes, and for the first time since Lockdown we saw cars parked there. Presumably getting ready for opening, as sport, as long as social distance can be adhered too, is now permissible.

Thursday 14. Whilst walking by the railway track, after walking over the footbridge, we noticed a beautiful view of two horses and a tiny rabbit friend adhering to the 2metre distancing rule!

On our Friday evening walk it was a joy to hear the Nightingale singing it’s merry tune as we walked to the river.

Saturday 16 was a bright, but still chilly day. We put a few chairs, well distanced, out in the garden as we expected the family to visit at some point to wish Happy Birthday to their Dad. They did visit, and stayed a few minutes, it was lovely to be able to have a chat in person, but it seems surreal not to be able to hug or even be close. I do realise how fortunate we are to have our family living close, as a short visit is possible, with the now slightly relaxed Lockdown measures.

As we walked by the fishing lakes on Sunday, the water bailiff and his helper were on patrol, we were told they were preparing for the lakes to  be opened for fishing, but strict distancing rules needed to be adhered to for the safety of all those involved. They’re hoping to be able to be up and running in about a fortnight. It is very noticeable that more folk are now driving to Trimley in order to walk in the countryside. It must be such a joy, for those with little accessible green space near them, to be able to drive to find peace and tranquillity in the countryside.:

Monday 18 has been an absolutely glorious day. I cycled to Kirton and was taken by the quietness of Trimley High Road. Whilst being busy in the garden we have been fascinated by a friendly robin who has been so busy finding food to take back to his family. The miles he must travel in a day! At one point he looked as if he was about to cut the lawn, but he flew off, just as the camera was clicked!

Becca Atherstone

Still plodding along with erratic decorating. This is going to be like the Forth Bridge.

The newly decorated sitting room has now got new curtains up! Ordered some months ago…and a long wait before they could be installed. So long ago I had almost forgotten the material. It will sound a bit bonkers, but I chose parrots. I have never had a parrot. I don’t know any parrots. In fact when I showed Iain (husband) what had leapt out from the fabric book at me he was less than enthusiastic.

However, they look brilliant! He loves them, daughter loves them, best friend loves them…and so do I! Just as well because we will be living with these drapes for quite a while.

Saturday. Well, I was seventy today. I had seriously thought this would be a mundane boring lockdown birthday….I couldn’t have been more wrong! Our daughter and her partner were able to visit and brought us lunch. I got some brilliant presents….railway sleepers will be delivered soon and I have been digging an 11 foot by 5 foot rectangle. It was weedy, rooty and nothing ever grows there, but once filled with new soil I hope to have a blanket of wild flowers there.

Another present was an Iphone. This is causing much frustration as I try to enter the world of the able-to-do-anything-phone. I am suddenly feeling inept and stupid. Why can’t I get the hang of it?!!! It’s the same feeling I had years back at work when I walked into the newsroom to find my trusty typewriter had been replaced with an Alien.

A Computer.

I disliked it immensely, now I couldn’t be without one. I hope the same thing eventually happens with Alien 2.

The best present of all was a half hour video Flo had made for me which featured dear friends from all over the world recalling memories we shared together. Several I have known since the age of 6. An emotional end to the day.

I am very lucky.


‘B’   – a seven year old girl

bluebell butterfly                                                            Photograph courtesy of ‘B’.

I’ve learned how to cycle a long way. I’ve been on pebbly roads, to the sea front and to the ferry. I cycled 10 miles yesterday!  I wear my cycle helmet and daddy wears his. I take a drink and my bunny in my basket

My chrysalis in my butterfly net hatched this week. Four butterflies! I fed them with flowers and sugar water and then we released them today. Right next to flowers so they could get some nectar if they wanted to. But, 3 soared into the air and over the roof. One sat on my hand for a while, then sat on a flower.

Robin Biddle

I’d labelled this Week 6.  Is it  five weeks to release? I’ll be another year older by then. Where has it gone?

My very first memory, black out curtains and taped windows, air raid sirens and ‘the guns’ in Cordy’s Lane. Dried Egg, Powdered milk, malt and cod liver oil. At about eighteen months old, when staying at my grandparents, I saw American B17s take off from Rattlesden airfield… Amongst my toys, I had an American wooden Staghound Armoured car and a Jeep complete with aerials. (The young lady that lived next door had some very good American friends). Three years old, waiting at the Trimley station crossing gates I saw a V1 rocket fly over. Later that year my dad came home from the war, he was a radio operator/ driver, in the Reconnaissance regiment, in North Africa and Italy.

1947, the big freeze, we had an outside toilet, the cistern overflowed and created a 4 ft high 10″ thick icicle.

I started school in this year, our first teacher a Miss Martin (we thought she was ‘odd’ but she taught my cousins over 20 years later). We progressed via miss Ridley and Miss Williams to Mr Stafford. I think I’ve written about my St Mary’s school before. Lock down is getting to me.

Two days running, looked at the garden. Too windy, then too cold. Maybe tomorrow?

As usual, I was late reading the blogs.  Thanks Paul R, we’re re united, and up and almost running

Wednesday. Anticipation, the furniture shop phoned, could they come to fit our new carpet (ordered the day before lockdown)

Thursday. Excitement, and a lot of furniture moving. The carpet arrived and was fitted, looks amazingly like the old one! Without the wear patches, more furniture moving. The grass can wait, again.

Friday.  The grass escaped again. I took the hedge trimmer to one large and two smaller shrubs; that’s enough for one day. Weekend tomorrow, Grass can wait to next week.   The first Swifts returned

Saturday. Planned day off. Well, just did a bit of liquid weed killing. The grass is still waiting

Our granddaughters (in Kent) planned a night camping in their garden, I wonder if they stayed past the midnight feast?

Sunday, Definitely a day off.

Chandra Grover

The garden is looking quite immaculate. Pottering around, a touch up here and there, and then we sit and admire the soft purple of a lilac tree and wisteria mixed with hot pink geraniums recently planted.

And so, another week has slipped by and I still haven’t opened up the shed to Mosaic. A new project is waiting but the music room is still a hive of activity. Online sessions continue with choirs; we celebrated VE Day, sang the Best of the Beatles, The Carpenters and recorded ‘Teo Torriate’,   a Queen song with lyrics ‘In the quiet of the night let our candle always burn, let us never lose the lessons we have learned’.  Beautiful.

Alison F


This week we should have been going on a holiday on a very small cruise ship taking only just over 30 passages, around some Baltic islands and then having a week at an all-inclusive hotel in Dubrovnik. For obvious reasons this is not happening.  Being optimistic souls, we have told the holiday company we would like the same holiday next year for the same money.  They are still working on this but have told us it will probably cost us 50% more.

So, what to do? The joke this year is should I take my holiday in the lounge or the kitchen?  As quarentinnii’s, I can’t see us travelling abroad until there is a vaccine. We could maybe decide to take a week off from housework and gardening and take half day trips out to places in Suffolk. Everything of course would have to be within bladder range as public toilets are likely to be shut. The rest of the day we could spend reading and relaxing but would we have the discipline to turn our eyes against all the chores that need to be done? We could eat convenience foods in the evening so we didn’t need to cook and of course drink rather a lot.

We love travelling and would normally go away several times a year and have been to every continent bar Antarctica.

I’m reflecting on the situation today and one of our most interesting holidays.  We were in China at the time of the SARS virus in the spring of 2003.  Our group even had the terracotta warriors to ourselves as China had banned foreign tourists.  Our departure from Beijing airport was unforgettable. Everyone had to wear masks and gloves and the airport was constantly being fumigated. We were told to walk in single file.  An anonymous voice told us to look up and our temperature was taken.  I was terrified because I was of the age where I would suddenly feel very hot (no explanation needed for ladies of that age). I thought I was bound to be unlucky.  In order to pass through security your temperature was taken again. I kid you not,  if it was higher than average a bell sounded and you were taken off by men in white coats to be quarantined in a hospital.  The point was that the Chinese government didn’t want the virus to escape elsewhere. Fortunately all our group passed safely through security and we were able to fly back to London. At Heathrow I was amazed that we were just given a leaflet telling us if we had a fever we should quarantine. I decided to don my mask and get on my moral highhorse and was the only person walking through Terminal 3 with people hissing at me “We don’t want SARS here.” On returning home I also quarantined myself for a fortnight and had my first online shop.

What of  holidays in the future?  I think fewer of us will be travelling abroad by plane and I think the market for long haul and cruise ships will definitely be much diminished.  Many people may well prefer to spend their holidays in the UK which would be great for our seaside resorts and cultural towns. (Back to the future.) My gut feeling is that as well as people being wary of travelling there will be less money to spend on holidays. However I’m sure we will find a way through it somehow.


Morag Liffen

So here we are, now in week 9 of lockdown.
It’s been a bit of an eventful week. My other half celebrated his 60th birthday – just me and him and a cake. The ‘surprise’ party will have to come later. We had hoped to go away for a few days – again, that will have to wait.
Sadly, we lost my father-in-law this week, not to COVID, thankfully. He passed away peacefully in his care home. But the funeral that he had organised and paid for will not happen in quite the way he had wanted, with only five people allowed to attend the service and burial. They may have a service of remembrance at a later date, but who knows when that will be able to take place, with so many of his friends and relatives elderly or vulnerable.
I had my first experience of an e-consult with my doctor this week. My eyes had been bothering me for a few weeks, but the lids had swelled up, and although I had put off contacting the surgery, decided it was time I needed some help. I had to fill in an online form, and then upload a ‘selfie’ of the swollen eye – not an easy task, as I had to take my glasses off, and then I couldn’t see what button to press.Then I emailed it off to the surgery and a few hours later received a phone call from one of the nurses, telling me that a prescription for drops and tablets would be sent to my local pharmacy, to be collected later that day. What a marvellous service.Maybe this will be the way forward in the future. It certainly lessens the risk of infection, to both patients and medical staff.
Another sad event this week was the passing of Shaun the sheep, who lived in a field with Blackie the horse down Thorpe Lane, near the fishing lakes, and was a familiar and much loved site to the many walkers, myself included, who strolled past and always said hello. I didn’t know how Blackie would manage on his own, but have heard that his owners have bought two new sheep to keep him company, their names to be chosen by the children of Trimley St. Martin. So a bit of good news in sad times.
And so we carry on – staying safe, and staying alert.


Laura Locke

Sunday Serenade
Sitting in my garden with a cacophony of birds led by my favourite jenny wren and the buzzing of bees in the honeysuckle, it struck me that I should  spend more time listening and absorbing the sights and sounds of my own Trimley haven than concerning myself with the outside world.

Yesterday with the opening of more garden centres (Roselea and Goslings have been open for weeks) and the opportunity to drive further distances I decided to venture out in the car past the outer limits of Trimley. My Polo was surprised to being urged out on a journey longer than 3 miles and faster than 30 miles per hour to the Felixstowe Radio studio and the supermarket.

I wanted to go to Katie’s garden in Newbourne as they have been so informative on Felixstowe Radio and helpful on email. Inevitably there were queues and I checked myself. Why visit at a weekend when so many key workers are only free then.

So Bess, my cockerpoo, and I ambled on a delightful walk around Newbourne Springs. I discovered and explored a footpath that in all the years I have visited the Fox and the Springs I had never encountered.

Then we came home. For someone who has had a life of  rushing about, on timetables, on deadlines, or more recently glued to Zoom and Virtual Classroom it is now a joy to spend time smelling the honeysuckle, serenaded by the performing birdlife and bees, breathing in the unpolluted air and revelling in the moment.

Paul  R.

Another week passes and we have our first birthday (L’s) since lockdown. Normally we would either go to the theatre in London or maybe take a trip up the coast and have a pleasant night away. No possibility of such during lockdown of course.

Enjoyment can be had from having a birthday at home however. Breakfast with the time to open cards and presents followed by a walk in the sunshine – unusual as it is normally dull and overcast at this time of the year. After lunch we christened the new gin glasses whilst relaxing in the garden.

Early evening cooking and eating followed by the main attraction, champagne, chocolate and a film. We recently bought a projector for presentations but it plays films very well on a 12’ X 7’ wall. Almost like being at the cinema but with more comfortable seats.

On Friday we had a Family quiz night via “Zoom”. There were 8 of us (adults) with the occasional grandchild chipping in. We “competed” as couples and each couple had prepared 10 questions. Wine , snacks , and the spirit of competition (not really. In all we spent 2.5 enjoyable hours and I can heartily recommend it.

Once again, I realise how fortunate we are in our situation as I know how difficult it is for many. I know from the small amount of voluntary work I do how lonely some people have become during the last few weeks – let alone other lockdown related worries.

 Yvonne Smart


Like many others, I was well aware that 12th of May was a special day in that it was International Nurses Day which is observed annually commemorating the birth of Florence Nightingale who revolutionised nursing 200 years ago.

It is thanks to the Lady with the Lamp that nursing care as we now know it is the result from her creation of the massive reforms within military and civilian hospitals that took place. Her dedication to tending the sick and injured didn’t stop there, for she went on to establish a nursing school and sent trained nurses into workhouses to care for the poor.

As well as books written by her on the principles of healthcare she continued  to press home the importance of hygiene, sanitation, record keeping and good hospital management.

Thank you Florence Nightingale, and thank you to all who play their part in our hospitals, care homes and in the community.

And thank you to Liz for setting up the blog for individuals to share their thoughts as well as explaining to this non techno individual how some pictures sent to the site don’t always end up where Liz would like them to be!  Modern technology can be baffling at times but has certainly had its place during this pandemic.

May we all remain safe and well.

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