So here I am again, finally putting a blog together, after some eighteen months plus absence.
Next Tuesday 23 March, marks a year since lockdown began in England. We were so sure it would only be for 3-4 weeks and here we are a year later! Although there has been some rule relaxation over that time, life as we know it has not been able to resume.
Now in many ways I know I am one of the lucky ones. Up to this point, I have been lucky enough not to suffer Covid-19 myself and my family are thankfully all safe. The vaccine programme is well underway and we have a roadmap for getting out of this, but still a year locked down has taken its toll, particularly with the additional personal challenges – those close to me know what I am referring to. The hardest part has been this stretch since Christmas where we have been back in full lockdown but without the sunshine of last year’s full lockdown. I think what was once a novelty, has started to become quite tiresome now. A holiday to look forward to or even a meal out would be nice.
Now I vowed a year ago to start blogging again – after all lack of time could no longer be used as an excuse – however somehow or another, weekend after weekend would pass without me getting around to it. Well now as we have a roadmap for hopefully being back to normal by June, I really need to get on with this before time does become an issue again.
So, what am I going to write about you might ask, given that most of the last year has revolved around my four walls and the latest Netflix series? Well there is plenty to catch you up on prior to the pandemic changing our lives beyond recognition, but I’ll start with a reflection on our current situation.
There have amazingly been some positives to come out of this world crisis and I only realised quite how many at New Year, when I went to post my top ten photos of the year from my camera roll on Instagram and struggled to narrow it down.
In January 2020, we got our new rabbit, Benji – a continental giant. I had been keen to get another, since we lost our beloved Rufus the previous October and I’m so glad we did before the pandemic hit, as he has been a great comfort during the lockdown, even if we do now have a lot less carpet than then, thanks to his chewing! Next month we will be adding to our pet family with a girlfriend for him – double trouble here we come!
I had never been a great one for gardening before the pandemic, but last year, my husband and I really got stuck in and grew runner beans, courgettes and peppers successfully. The peppers I was particularly proud of as I grew them from seeds I dried out of peppers from the supermarket. The BBQ was used more than it had been in all the years of having it too!
Having lived in Medway ten years next month, it had never really felt like home, mainly I think as I used it much like a hotel as I worked in London all week and visited friends and family in the London boroughs most weekends. Now while I would still like to move back to a London borough, the pandemic has made me appreciate my local area far more. We have discovered and appreciated some great beauty spots on our doorstep and as well as keeping up our running (despite there being no parkruns) we have also realised the pleasure a good walk can bring. We’ve also got to know our neighbours better and it feels more like a community – particularly on VE Day in May, when we had a street party.
Our wedding anniversaries have always been grand celebrations, usually involving a holiday, but I actually found our 2020 celebration of six years together far more special than any of those, because so much more thought went into it– read more about that in a later blog.
I started volunteering for the Rainbows, part of Girlguiding, it’s for the 5–7-year-olds before Brownies. Volunteering with Girlguiding was something I had wanted to do for a long time but somehow, again never got around to. So far it has all been on Zoom but I am looking forward to finally meeting them all in person after Easter, all being well. Volunteering really is so rewarding and I’d encourage anyone to look for opportunities, even if you only have limited time available.
I got to see one of my closest friends get married and get her well-deserved happy ever after, the weekend before they cut wedding numbers from 30 to 15. The ceremony was beautiful and held at The Old Marylebone Town Hall. I felt so privileged to be included in the intimate ceremony and the smaller numbers made it all the more special. She looked absolutely stunning and they both looked so happy. It was a cold, windy day but we still managed confetti on the steps as they came out, followed by prosecco and the favour was a facemask to remember the occasion. I wore a purple dress from Silk Fred, with my wonderful Sophia Webster sandals which I had bought for her original do, planned for April 2020 but cancelled due to the lockdown.
One of our proudest moments of last year was being selected to be Godparents to my best friend’s son. Again, the ceremony was small given restrictions and we went with my friend and her husband for afternoon tea after the service. It just felt extra special somehow because it was a small affair. I wore a floral maxi dress from Oasis, with a navy waterfall jacket from New Look and my espadrilles by Castaner that I got in Barcelona a few years back.
In amongst all the craziness, my husband and I even managed a short break to Whitby in August, which we last visited to get engaged in 2013. We stayed in a lovely little cottage and of course visited the famous Magpies restaurant for Fish and Chips.
One of the things I am so grateful for is technology. If it hadn’t been for Zoom and FaceTime, I’m not sure how I would have coped. While nowhere near as good as meeting people face to face, it is a good consolation and I have enjoyed video calls with friends and family, including quizzes! I have never researched so many quiz questions in my life! We have regularly had dinner over facetime with my Mum and Dad which actually works really well and you almost forget the camera is there. Christmas lunch was done like this and we told cracker jokes and opened our presents over it too.
I’ve loved spending more time with my husband, even if we have driven each other crazy at times and when I have managed to see friends, it has been more quality time, without distractions and I feel we’ve got to know each other even better.
I certainly haven’t missed the commute, although it will be nice to see work colleagues in the flesh again. It will be lovely to get some routine back and a push to get out of bed in the morning, rather than leaving it to the last possible minute to roll into the spare bedroom and start work. One phrase I definitely won’t miss is ‘you’re on mute.’
I will miss some of the simple pleasures that lockdown has brought though, not least that quality time spent with people. A slower pace of life has been nice and time to notice some of the nature around us – maybe the answer is a blended approach. I won’t be giving up my Sunday evening baths with Lush bath bombs, candles and a book, that’s for sure! I’m sure we will all be glad when the hairdressers open though – there’s a reason I never trained as one – me and clippers are not a match made in heaven, as my husband can testify!
We all hope we are on the home straight now, but why not take some time to look for the positives in this nightmare and like me, you might be surprised at how long your list is!