… for now and some of the Viral words of 2020:
Some of the words we have seen or heard in the last four months
The Word Cloud above indicates some of the words which have been part of our lives for the last four months. Last year (2019), Brexit was the Word and indeed, it will be again, I suspect. You will have your own set of words which have resonated with you, but for now, the Word Cloud records the words which have rung in my ears for the twelve plus weeks, some more than I would have liked.
But everything is moving on. Pubs and Bars are open. Family ‘bubbles’ are extant and lockdown-weary households are taking the risk of cautiously intermingling with selected friends or family. Officially, it’s not much more than one hundred days since Lockdown commenced. Slightly longer for those who went into voluntary seclusion the week before. Now, however, is the hour when we re-engage with the new world, in all its strange manifestations.
Of urgent necessity, on 25th June, we went to Norwich for a pre-arranged appointment at The Apple Store. We had out longest driving experience since February and not only did we cross the Orwell Bridge, we also drove across the county border and in to Norfolk. The volume of traffic was astonishing and it was only later it dawned upon us: everyone was heading for the seaside. All this changed when we entered the car park at Chapelfield. No queuing to enter, only one deck open and an over-abundance of spaces. Motorists emerging from cars looked around to ensure there was no one in the vicinity before cautiously walking to the escalators. Sanitiser was well to the fore before you ascended into the gleaming shopping mall. All was fresh, the smell of anti-bac over riding any other fragrance and every surface shone. The only outlet with a queue was that of The Apple Store, others were sparsely populated. People in bandit headgear steered around each other. Signs on the floors marked and informed the visitor how they should behave. ‘Two metres apart, keep to the left.’ As we were early, the four Bouncers outside Apple decked us out with face protection and told us to come back in ten minutes. No standing still longer than required. Minimal human contact.
We wandered aimlessly, killing the minutes ‘til our appointed time slot. Chapelfield never did have much to offer us and now, even less, although those shops allowed to open their doors, sported generous enticements to shoppers; 75% off all goods. The Eatery area, which would have been overflowing with hungry customers four months ago, was serving a total of five or six customers. The pedestrian walkways were sparsely populated, although some ‘Pandemic Tourists’ veered off piste in order to hang over the railings looking at the abandoned level below. Mindful of the maxim, ‘Go when you can’, we were granted access to bandbox fresh toilet facilities, the like of which was surely unknown since the store opened fifteen or so years ago. It resembled an architect’s presentation, wherein ergonomically shaped humans disported themselves in elegant poses against a backdrop of impossibly immaculate display and layout. (Not that there were any ergonomically and anatomically correct people. They were just the usual range of sizes from ‘0’ to XXX.) Four months ago, it would have seemed dystopian. Now, it is reality. No one rational human knowingly impinged on another’s personal space. Every surface inside the Apple Store was wiped down before and after a customer perched at the tables, eyes were wide open and ever ready for intruders. All deployed their eyes to greater effect than usual as face masks disguised our features. Is this our depleted future?
This thought raised questions in my mind and I sent them to my Pandemic Correspondents in Trimley. Namely, ‘How is it for you? Are you happy to exit Lockdown? Do you think it is too early to exit? Do you have to return to work and are you apprehensive about it? Perhaps you miss the silence of the early Lockdown days with their relatively unpolluted skies and air? Are some areas over-burdened, whilst others show signs of diminishing usage and an uncertain future? Two Sisters ‘Zoomed’ their first ever Jazz Gig this weekend, Friday 3rd July and ‘The Hand in Hand’ and The Social Club opened their doors on Saturday 4th July. And so we continue with out brave moves into a refurbished world.
My thanks go everyone who has generously recorded their thoughts and actions about the pandemic in the last four months or so. Their voices are far more cogent than mine.
As June unfurled so a few more restrictions were lifted. I was thrilled for folk who had been alone, they could now form a bubble with another family, that must have been such a joy. For us, with our family living locally, it meant we had the pleasure of sitting outside with our son and family to share his birthday lunch with them. Also, in the same week we were again invited to share lunch outside, this time for our Grandson’s 10th Birthday. We felt such delight at being able to share this special time with them and to see his thrilled face as Mummy’s wonderful creation of his requested birthday cake appeared! The following weekend was Father’s Day and our daughter invited us to a barbecue in their garden. Again, what joy to be able to share another family occasion together. June is definitely a birthday month for our family, because that week we spent a lovely evening with our family for our daughter-in-law’s birthday. Our grandchildren had made banana and kiwi smoothie and a delicious apple cake iced with ‘Mum’ on it, all served with awareness of social distancing, it has become so ‘normal’ that we hardly noticed it, just thoroughly enjoying the being together.
What was not a pleasure was the realisation that after restrictions were eased on driving, we hadn’t travelled far, but took a few walks in different places, after three months our car was now in need of petrol. We hadn’t been near any shops, so the thought of this was, frankly a little scary. I went in the car with Clifford, to give moral support really! There was really no need for concern, the set up at Felixstowe’s Solar Garage was as Covid secure as was possible. Another hurdle overcome on the return to ‘new normal’. On the strength of this, Clifford had been wanting some bits and pieces from Screwfix , so a Click and Collect was organised! I went along too, just to see what life is about on the outskirts of Ipswich! Again, I could see, and Clifford experienced, the safety measures that had been stringently implemented. Slowing but surely we are entering this ‘changed world’.
Now that travelling is less restricted and we can have a distance walk with a friend, my friend and I decided to meet at Newbourne and take the footpaths to Hemley. Such an adventure and the first time I had driven for three months! It felt wonderful!
Just this last Monday Clifford and I parked the car in Snape and walked to Iken. It was fairly blustery but blue skies and nature abounded. We sat for a while in a quiet nook looking over the River Alde. I couldn’t help but think worshipping God in the glory of His creation seemed far more natural than going back into our churches at this current time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the heritage and majesty of our ancient sites of worshipping. On entering I would normally sense, what I describe a hug, from the generations of love and praise within those sacred, precious walls. However, returning with Covid secure conditions in place will be so different from our previous experiences of church services that my thoughts, at the moment, are that my Sunday Worship will continue to be the Lockdown provision made by our local clergy remotely, via various forms of technology.
It’s not just church that are preparing us for post Lockdown experiences. I am shortly due for an eye test so my opticians sent a reminder, together with a short video showing the changes that are in place so we can feel safe during our visit. It certainly amused me that I could not only choose, but also ‘try on ‘frames on line! Wonderful what these Apps can do!
In Trimley, one can hear the ‘new normal’ is emerging from Lockdown, the buzz of the A14 traffic has returned, the goods trains have more containers on board, and the fishermen have returned to the local lakes, which must be a joy for them.
At this time of the year holidays away from home are often the hot topic of conversation, this year Holiday at Home is a more likely catchphrase!
‘B’ – a 7 year old girl
I have been riding my bike, walking lots and scooting outside my house. I am still building lots of dens and have fairy lights, a corridor and a cosy area in my latest den, it covers almost all my bedroom!
I have been doing lots of school work and growing lots of vegetable in the garden. Mummy got me a new rabbit as her school rabbit had babies! My Rabbit is called Rosie-Cottontail, because I love the Peter Rabbit story! She eats lots of greens and my neighbours gives me some from her allotment.
Mummy has been reading ‘The Ickabog’* – to me every night! We thought the Ickabog was made up but in last night’s chapter, we found out he was REAL!
I am still at home, and haven’t seen my Nana and Grandad yet, but my friend, M is coming to play in my garden on Friday – The very first time I have seen her in 100 days!
* ‘The Ickabog’ by J.K. Rowling – https://www.theickabog.com/home/
Somehow, that’s twelve weeks done. Now there’s a rumour, that because I was elevated from ‘Solitary’ to ‘Shielded’, I have the pleasure of another four weeks!
As our garden is a spring garden, it’s almost done it’s stuff, just the buddleias to go. Allowing for the drought, it looks OK, although we’ve got a few plants really suffering.
I’m sure that there are even more birds singing. The traffic noise on the A14 is increasing and I badly miss my cycle rides. I’ve snuck for a walk a couple of times, to check if the legs still work, even had to knock the dust off the cameras.
It was a real treat to have a visit from our daughter on Father’s Day.
I guess that it’s start again now. The greenhouse and shed need tidying, the grass may need mowing.
Had a half day out, for a hospital appointment. Luckily the Sugar provided transport was a car, so that I could ‘see out’, The sugar beet that were seedlings last time I was out, are in full leaf, and the barley that was little more than grass, is now ripening and will be ready for harvest in a couple of weeks.
Midweek had a letter, now, they tell me, I could have been ‘going out’ since the first of June. Better still, it rained
I’ve now walked further in 3 days than I have for most of the year. I’m not sure if i’m in a hurry to go back into town, I don’t have the patience to queue, and no idea what the bus schedules might be. (The only thing I would venture out for… Proper bread !!)
A ‘Head Teacher’
Life in my school has been exhausting. My staff and myself have worked through the Easter holiday and 1/2 term holiday. I received no additional funding to pay my staff, yet they all still came in day after day – showing the committed professionals they are. Committed to the vulnerable children, committed to the key worker children and professional through and through. I am in awe of the work that has continued in my school over the last 100 days.
From the first of June I welcomed back around 40% of pupils, which has steadily risen to our maximum capacity of 64%, given the current restrictions of a maximum of 16 pupils in a bubble. The language of ‘bubbles’, ‘bursting bubbles’, ‘furlough’ and the countless writing, re-writing and then writing again of plans, processes, protocols, procedures, policies and statements as the government guidance was leaked, amended, released and then changed again. My risk assessment is robust and regularly reviewed and I have had to use my professional knowledge, but also gut feeling to make the best decisions I can for my school community.
Whilst managing this, I have also had to find new ways of engaging with the new cohort due to start in September. No parents induction evening this year – but, we made a video on YouTube instead. No home visits, no tours of the school, but we have made the best we can of the situation. I have two plans for September, depending on the guidance to be released this week. Whatever the guidance says, I know my team will give the new children a warm welcome in September. We will do our very best to give this cohort a fantastic start to our school.
But, above all, I am looking forward to the summer break and the opportunity for my staff to have a well earned break. I am so saddened by the continuing media portraying teachers as lazy, sitting at home watching Netflix as this is so wrong. My team have worked tirelessly and I hate to see how they are made to feel – I can certainly say – don’t believe everything you read on Social Media or in the mainstream media!
During the past three months since the start of lockdown on March 23rd, the most important thing to me after the basic necessities of living, has been to keep in touch with other people. This has meant sending emails to virtually all my family and friends living abroad and in this country. With some people I would normally only be in touch at Christmas time, so it has been nice to have a catch up with them recently. I have even had a phone call with a second cousin who I have never met.
Thank goodness for modern technology. If this pandemic had happened 15 years ago or earlier there wouldn’t have been such things as smart phones and video calls. At least those of us who have computers and smartphones can see our loved ones if they are abroad or a long distance away. We have had to learn to use the group conferencing apps such as Teams and Zoom. Initially using the Zoom app has been a struggle with multiple voices speaking at once sounding like the Tower of Babel. Now we are having a weekly quiz with our village friends on Zoom without hitches. I’ve been able to Skype my brother and family in America. My line dancing friends are all on a WhatsApp group together. We have a weekly WhatsApp video chat with our daughter in London and our little granddaughter waves her legs at us.
However I have still used snail mail for cards and postcards, until I ran out of stamps and my daughter had to send me a pack through the post. Every weekday I have rung someone on the good old landline whilst having my tea or coffee. I have worked my way through my address book and various lists. Some people are puzzled to get a call but most people appreciate a chat.
A few weeks ago hubby started putting up what looked like an extra washing line. I checked whether he was intending for me to take in laundry but no thank goodness. He had decided to take up his hobby of amateur radio which he had given up over 42 years ago when we were married, but he still has his license. He sent away for various other bits and pieces and now every so often, there is an excruciating whirring noise coming from the lounge. This is enough to keep any wife or family member out of the way. I was quite excited by the idea that he could find out how coronavirus was affecting various people in other parts of the world. No such luck. Apparently these guys just check each other’s signal strength and then sign off. They don’t even ask what the weather is like. Men!!
We finally met up with our daughter, her husband and our granddaughter at a country park just outside Braintree which is halfway between Trimley and where they live in London. I had sent my daughter a 2 m long ribbon for her to practice ribbon running with our granddaughter. We met them in the car park and our granddaughter was holding the ribbon and immediately wanted to do the ribbon running, which we did a lot of and she loved it. She understood she wasn’t allowed to cuddle us and realised she wasn’t allowed on playgrounds either.
I’ve also been able to meet up with my line dancing friends, as our line dancing teacher in Felixstowe has been organising for four of us at a time to dance in his garden for an hour once a week. He has a large deck, which he has covered in flooring material and I think he has long-suffering neighbours who don’t mind country music. It’s been great fun and wonderful to catch up.
Hubby had to go to the post office to post a parcel and so he made a mask out of an old nightie of mine using the mended sewing machine. This was not a good look and his glasses kept steaming up. I told my brother this tale and he arranged for a Chinese student of his (a princess from the Qing dynasty no less) to send us masks from China. Instructions are in Mandarin. I know I really should be learning this language. Our 3 year old granddaughter, who believes she is a princess, said she’d only like a mask if it had sequins on it. I know where she gets her genes from.
Hubby gave me a hair cut, unfortunately it ended up as an ear cut! Ouch.
We are continuing with our project of producing walks in Trimley St Martin. The idea is to put them up on the Parish Council website first and then hopefully next year we plan to produce a booklet of them. We have devised eight routes of various lengths and Liz our historical expert, is going to make a Gazetteer of all the interesting places on our routes. We have spent many hours working out the best way of producing the maps but hopefully we’ve cracked it now. So if you see someone wandering round the countryside notebook in hand you now know why. We are really enjoying doing this.
As for coming out of lockdown I have very mixed feelings. I think it is right for the economic sake of the country and also for most children to go back to school in September. However I do believe there will be other spikes and local lockdowns, particularly in the winter time when more people will be gathering inside. A few years ago a nurse told me that my lungs were the same as someone who smoked 40 cigarettes a day, even though I’ve never smoked in my life. Therefore I am very frightened of catching the virus and have made up my mind not to go inside any buildings, unless it’s absolutely essential, until such time as there is a vaccine or the number of cases of coronavirus in Suffolk is exceedingly low. This means I won’t be able to do any community work or join in any inside social gatherings. We will continue to get our shopping online now using Click and Collect. Unfortunately the local farm shop that were using this have stopped deliveries, which is a shame because we wanted to support a local shop. I envy people who feel comfortable about going to the hairdressers, into shops and restaurants and can cuddle theIr grandchildren. However I am the eternal optimist and believe a vaccine will be found and we will eventually get back to our old normal.
These are interesting questions, Liz, and one that I think many of use would benefit from engaging in.
Three weeks ago today my daughter and I went through the rather unpleasant experience of being tested for covid. Our results proved negative, so Sarah could return to her home in Saxmundham. She had been with me for three months. During which time I shielded her. We hugged every morning and every evening and whenever a hug was needed through the day. Now she has returned to supported housing, I can’t hug her.
Before lockdown I reduced my hours at work and took phased retirement. Finally, after being a carer for 26 years and working full time I could now begin building a life for myself. I was volunteering at the 2 Sisters Arts centre and had also begun a cat sitting service, with two clients lined up.
That has all gone.
I am now looking at returning to work. Work which will be much changed.
I spent a few hours at the beach front on one of the hottest days this year. My friends have a chalet and we kept very isolated. I can’t say the same for the hordes of people lining up for take away food, nor the clusters of teens hugging and greeting each other. It was as though none of the past 3 months had happened. I find myself asking the question … what was that all about, all those deaths, conspiracy, fear, economics…..and now we brace ourselves for the re-opening of pubs and restaurants.
Everything is so unsettled and people seem restless and scared. It is truly like the aftermath of a dystopian novel.
My theme tune.. walking back to happiness
My cockerpoo Bess and I have walked many miles together over lockdown. For 100 days read 10,000 steps a day at least, and probably 40,000 for Bess. We have discovered so many leafy glades, river shores, fields and meadows, and once allowed, frequently driven to Bess’s favourite spot Landguard reserve and the beach near Manor End. My sustaining joy has been meeting my best pals for walks, first one on one, then as a socially distanced three. I have finally seen my sons and their girlfriends all together but separate in my garden, which I was beginning to think would never happen.
Interviews on my Felixstowe Radio shows have all been conducted on the phone, and meetings, tutorials and lectures for my job at the university have all been virtual. Rehearsals for Stellar Acappella and recordings have been zoomed, and my 65th Birthday party, and my women’s cocktail event. Yesterday I zoomed with my two sisters for the first time, one in Watford and one in Arizona, and that is one positive thing that has come from Covid 19 as well experiencing nature and our environment in peace and tranquility without traffic and aeroplane noise.
For a person who thrives on interaction, performance and non verbal communications it has been hard, but I am enormously fortunate to live in Trimley St Martin, surrounded by fields and nestled between two rivers, in my lovely cottage with its over large garden and I have just harvested my first potatoes and lettuces!
I have felt so sorry for the hospitality industry and wish our two pubs the Mariners and the Hand in Hand well, but please take care customers. We don’t want a second spike.
As a theatre trustee of the Eastern Angles Theatre Company and a lover of the arts, I pray that some urgent help is given to the entertainment industry. The joy that is experienced through live performance is immeasurable, and so important for our mental health. As a mum of an entertainer son, Josh Locke, who was born and bred in Trimley and who has been performing live on Facebook in his garage instead of Glastonbury last weekend, I sincerely hope that arts practitioners are given support soon to bring back the joy and their livelihood.
Hard to believe it’s been 100 days since the lockdown started and began to affect our lives in ways none of us could have imagined just a few short months ago.
This week has seen me take a tentative approach to the relaxing of lockdown. I made a visit to two shops this week. The first was to Homebase to buy some paint, and I was impressed at how smoothly this went. Hand sanitiser at the door, a kindly young man to advise when it was safe to go in, well-spaced aisles, and a sensible queuing system, socially distanced, to pay for my purchase – contactless card, of course. The second trip was to Marks and Spencer’s at Martlesham. Same queuing system and hand sanitiser at the door, and a young man wiping down a trolley and steering it towards me. Everyone had to have a trolley, he said – it helped to keep people apart. One young woman objected, as she only wanted bread, but he persevered. ‘It’s the rules,’ he said.
I have to admit to feeling rather upbeat as I loaded my shopping into the car. It had all gone so much better than expected. And yes, I had worn a mask, as were most other shoppers, though not the staff.
Had a Zoom meeting to discuss the reopening of Suffolk libraries, and today popped into Woodbridge library to see the preparations and collect a few books. Initially, it will be a call and collect service, so no browsing of library shelves. All books will be selected by staff and handed over at the door. As a weekend relief, I’m not sure when I shall next be called in to work, but it was reassuring to see all the preparations at first hand.
I am still furloughed from the vets, although things are returning, more or less, to normal service, and the new hydrotherapy unit has reopened. I look forward to the day I can go back to the reception desk, though with social distancing still in place, I’m not sure how soon that will be.
This week also saw me venturing out with friends for walks along the prom, and afternoon tea in another friend’s garden. I am still wary about mixing, and don’t think I shall be first to the pub when it opens, or going for a meal out anytime soon, but I am enjoying being able to see friends and colleagues again.
Small steps, but it’s a start.
Lockdown Life (or Gaia’s revenge)
It is now the beginning of July 2020 and we (my husband and I) have been self-isolating since the 10th March. He is a bit older than me and suffers from Parkinson’s and Diabetes, so I am ‘shielding’ him. My son tells me I am also vulnerable as I am over 70, but I have difficulty accepting that.
Once the initial difficulty of procuring shopping after the depletion of the supermarkets, with empty shelves (no toilet paper or pasta etc), had subsided, things became a little less panicky. This was primarily due to the local volunteer group called Helping Hands who offered their services to cover our every need. They were amazing and got their act together really quickly and I would here like to thank them for their kindness. Online shopping was not an option as no slots were ever available as the focus was on ‘priority’ people who had received letters ominously telling them they were especially vulnerable. Eventually I found a local greengrocer who delivered fruit and veg, bread and milk to the door, and we have managed like that since then. Big thanks also to them and their initiative. Whether to sanitise the bags and produce on arrival became a major personal decision…specially as my sanitiser was not 70% alcohol and I didn’t really trust its efficacy.
The novelty of having so much spare time and every day feeling like Sunday was wonderful. From the start, the weather became Mediterranean and I drifted about inspecting my thriving plants and enjoying the birds flitting about building their nests and having babies. The light became positively luminous as pollution levels fell and the sound of silence was tangible. Often the silence was only broken by a wailing siren, which my overactive imagination decided was another poor corona victim being carted off to intensive care. More likely, a police car going off to coffee break. Sometimes the silence was beautiful and peaceful and at other times, it felt ominous and portending of doom, depending on one’s mood. About this time, it became impossible to obtain compost as everybody was digging up their flower beds to plant vegetable seeds. And the sun continued to shine and the jogging bottoms changed into shorts and we all got beautifully tanned.
There was lots of phoning to friends and family during the early days, keeping up with my normal frenetic lifestyle, but as time went on, there was little of interest to report and the frequency diminished as I adjusted to the new solitary situation. Resilience was required to keep positive as the realisation dawned that this lockdown would continue for much longer than originally envisaged. Teeth crumbled and no dentists were available to smooth the jagged edges. I was told to peel a Babybel cheese and stick the rind on the sharp points. That didn’t work. The slightest medical problem became terrifying as there seemed nowhere to seek help as the NHS was entirely focussed on coping with the virus, and the doctor surgeries did not want potential infection wandering in. Isolation took on a new dimension.
We were glued to the TV for news of the latest grim statistics and the updates from the government, and chilled by news that the Prime Minister was in intensive care with the virus. But fairly soon, the endless gloomy predictions and jumble of instructions became harder to take and the incredible scale of the situation around the entire world just made me feel extra insignificant and vulnerable. More isolation.
There was so much time for personal reflection as one gazed at the garden in the glorious sunshine and brilliant light…..somehow it became sort of mystical. Nature was triumphantly rejoicing as our once normal world disappeared. Punishment for our greedy ways? Revenge for our thoughtless destruction of our environment? What are we doing here? What is it all for?
Life slowed right down. The garden was up to date and outstanding jobs had been completed. All we had to do was enjoy ourselves. The constant underlying fear of meeting the virus prevented us from venturing out. So, we read, tried to paint, stay well and watched TV. The ingenuity of TV producers was remarkable and we were introduced to the intricacies of Zoom. We enjoyed criticising people’s style and taste in decor as we were introduced to their various dens Life operated from thousands of kitchens and dining rooms trying to fulfil our every need as companies tried frantically to keep functioning.
Then the rules changed as the peak passed and people were allowed to meet outside. Well, straight away, nature took control again and the weather turned colder and more changeable. Gone were the shorts. The focus turned to the dire state of the economy and shops were allowed to open and then hordes of people descended on the floundering High streets searching for bargains. This proved fairly short lived and sadly many businesses are facing ruin. It doesn’t bear thinking of the catastrophes that are happening to the majority of people who have to earn a living or have a more difficult life than I enjoy.
Already the beautiful silences are no more and the clarity of the light has dulled. I miss all that. But I now feel braver to venture out and do my own shopping in the evening when the crowds are gone. I was in the queue for the till last week and a woman said loudly to her man “You’re not looking very well at all… you haven’t been well for a couple of days now”. We all fell silent and I really don’t know if it was a joke or not. I can creep about for early morning walks (avoiding all the fit and healthy types where possible). I, along with most people, try to observe social distancing, except for when I forget and I am becoming accustomed to wearing my mask and gloves. But I must beware of the few who wander about freely without a care in the world; otherwise, as my son tells me……don’t count on having a family Christmas. How awful that would be.
Well it has been three weeks since I last wrote and things are slowly changing externally but I am not as confident as the Government seem to be about the easing of lockdown. The opening of pubs and restaurant on 4 July holds no attraction to me and whilst I sympathise with businesses in the hospitality sector and the need for them to restart earning their living, I feel it is still too early.
Against that I do see the logic of taking precautions whilst seeing family members again. We had not seen our children and grandchildren since February apart from Skype and Zoom which, while good, are nowhere near being the real thing.
One daughter, husband and grandson came to visit today (Saturday 4 July). All of us adults avoided physical contact but it was impossible for our grandson not to rush up to us and give a hug – he was so pleased to see us (as we were him) so the very slight risk was totally worth it. And yes, they stayed over as we are privileged to live in a property large enough to accommodate everyone at a safe distance. We are looking forward to cautious visits from the rest of the family over the coming weeks.
On a lighter note I still go shopping on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the local Waitrose. Being “of an age” I get there early so can start shopping at 07.30 when we are given priority. Over the weeks I have met many of the same people who shop on the same days. Now, I am not competitive, but tend to get there at 07.00 to be first in the queue. Yesterday I got there and a minute later another of the “regulars” arrived and said “Good morning – one day I will beat you to first place!”. Retirement priorities are a wonderful thing.
There is no denying the pandemic has been stressful at times. With family members being key workers (not NHS) it is naturally a cause of concern for their safety. However, at this moment in time we are all well, if a little frazzled. With the pandemic taking a heavy toll on many peoples mental well-being not only have anxiety levels risen across the population but many of our support networks and activities have been lost during this time.
Although Zoom and other methods of on line communication are available and kept people in touch there is no substitute for the ‘real thing’. Being able to see peoples body language is an important side of conversations and something blind friends I have known have talked about.
Lockdown imposed many restrictions but it also prompted more people to experience and appreciate the joy of walking. The very rhythm of walking can have a therapeutic effect reducing stress levels. For me personally being able to get out for my daily walks with my canine companion has been an essential part of my own well being. However I am very aware of inequalities of access. Poor access to green space exacerbating health inequalities is nothing new and to me the crisis has highlighted the disparity between those who have easy local access to nature be it in a garden, park, local walk, and those who do not. Easy access to green space can not only help make one healthier and generally feel happier, it can also improve ones sense of community with perhaps encouraging a positive action to protect the environment.
Who knows what the future normal will be? All I know is we must all try to look out for one another, maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible and hope that the government sees recovery from this crisis as an opportunity to improve access to the outdoors for all.