Lockdown Memories 2020
Lockdown Garden Stories
I never really realised how busy I was until that first lockdown. I usually went into the garden to do a particular job or have breakfast and then on to the next thing. Then lockdown came and I went into a garden that was still, and very noisy with birdsong so loud that it was breath taking. No planes in the sky and enough time to do whatever I liked – which was sometimes nothing – a joy!
Most people who are lucky enough to have a garden have spent more time there this year, considering plant species, arrangements, and use in their plot. Now,with this second lockdown, it has been to consider just how annoying those squirrels are when you have bulbs to protect.
Neighbours now exchange seeds, arrange joint deliveries from suppliers and tell each other of their successes and failures. Not only did we come together to clap the NHS during lockdown, we came together to share garden stories as well.
Lockdown Memories 2020
I had great hopes for 2020 having taken early retirement from work in mid-December 2019.
I had planned to have a complete break from any sort of work activity and to have a bit of “me” time doing nice things and meeting up with friends. Trips to concerts, the theatre and trips away were planned as were special family occasions dotted throughout the year.
Relaxing lunches with friends started and were getting longer and longer on each occasion.
As time went by though, the news about COVID-19 coming from China, and then mainland Europe was getting worse and worse. By February it was starting to hit me that things were really getting quite serious and that action needed to be taken to safeguard my 88 year old Mum. Family discussions took place and a loose plan was agreed with my siblings and Mum was firmly told that she needed to stay at home. Amazingly Mum agreed to everything and she stayed put from before the official lockdown in March to early August. My brother, who lives near to her, made sure she was okay and shopped and cared for her and continues to. He has been an absolute star throughout.
When it became clear that a national lockdown was going to happen, I topped up my already full “war” cupboard. Shopping in those early days was very strange. Whole aisles were stripped bare of food, something I’d never witnessed before. I remember going to the Co-op in the Square with a shopping list of fresh items, only to come out with one manky looking lettuce and a bag of squashed tomatoes that were vaguely salvageable!
Food shopping became very stressful as I wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible and didn’t want to spend time searching for things. John and I had “words” on a couple of occasions so after then I ensured I made a list in the order they were in the shop for our fortnightly trips out. We split the shopping up and we wore rubber gloves whenever going shopping and fastidiously gelled our hands. I remember constantly telling myself “do not touch your face, do not touch your face”. We soon got used to making sure we washed our hands as soon as we got home or handled anything like the post.
I quickly settled down into a daily routine and to be quite honest enjoyed spending time at home. I’m quite happy with my own company and I didn’t have as much of a need to go out for walk as John did, but when I did, I thoroughly enjoyed being out in places I’d never been to before. We are so lucky to have so many beautiful things on our doorstep and I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for people stuck in bedsits or small flats, especially with children.
As the weather was just so wonderful we both spent most of our time outdoors, me gardening and John doing some major works to the outside of the house. I went overboard with my “Dig for Victory” thinking and planted far too many seeds. I had literally hundreds of tomato plants, cabbages, kale and a fair smattering of lettuce and runner beans seedlings. One of the spare bedrooms was turned over to become an indoor nursery and we ran out of pots! We discovered that we could create pots by cutting long-life milk cartons in two, so made do with those. Luckily there was a shortage of plants due to nurseries and gardening centres being closed and I was able to sell almost everything surplus to our needs in our front garden.
Being out in the garden every day, I loved the peace and quiet with no aeroplanes going over-head and very little traffic on the road. Nature seemed to quickly reclaim the sky and it was wonderful hearing the birdsong and seeing the comings and goings of so many. I feel that I noticed things more and took in more of the beauty of things.
The days and weeks flew by as well. I felt that no sooner had I got up than I was having my daily chat with Mum over the phone!
I also loved being able to speak to our neighbours, either over the fence or at the Thursday evening clap for the NHS. The noise and on occasion huge flames from a neighbour across the road were wonderful and uplifting! We met neighbours we’d never seen before and there was a real sense of camaraderie. People said hello to one another on walks too.
On VE Day we decorated the house and had a socially distanced get together with our immediate neighbours. It was great to see that others nearby managed to commemorate this important event safely too.
What I did find quite difficult at times was John working from home with no supplies or equipment having been provided by his work place. The whole house was taken over when he worked as he needed space to set up a workstation as well as come up with ideas for activities that he could do on-line. I’m pleased to say that together we planned some really innovative ones that got lots of views on his works’ website and Facebook pages. I was very impressed by all the wonderful activities he and his colleagues were doing in the face of adversity.
As things “improved” and the rules of lockdown relaxed it was great to be able to do some social activities in the open air with friends and neighbours. It was also great to be able to visit my Mum and John’s Dad after so many months of not being able to see them. It was though, and still is, very strange not being able to kiss, hug or even shake their hands.
Although all of our theatre trips and concerts ended up being cancelled and a big family celebration was also cancelled we were able to go away safely on holiday for a couple of weeks which was a great relief.
It is sad that we have more restrictions once again just as things were feeling a little more like normal, but it’s interesting also how normal it feels to wear a mask when out. It no longer feels odd wearing one.
I think what I miss the most though is the ability to do things off the cuff without planning; and to meet friends; to go in their home and to kiss and hug my Mum and other family members. I would say that in the main one good thing to come out of this crisis is the way people have come together to support each other.
I have been saddened of course as well, especially when I knew someone who was my age died as a result of catching the virus. The vaccine trials look very hopeful though. Fingers crossed that we are turning a corner and that by mid-2021 things will get back to some sort of normality.
PS Something else which is positive, is that we also now have a new member of the family, Keiko, our 11 year old adopted cat who came to us just before the last lockdown.
A bit of Pam!
When Ben asked if I would contribute to the newsletter I was wondering what ever could I write as we have all be in similar situations over the months since March.
By now many are feeling rather down especially with the miserable weather and dark evenings so, I thought, why not consult Pam Ayres and see what she has to say about it – I’m sure some of you can resonate with what she has come up with!
I’m normally a social girl
I love to meet my mates
But lately with the virus here we can’t go out the gates.
You see, we are the ‘oldies’ now
We need to stay inside
If they haven’t seen us for a while
They’ll think we’ve upped and died.
They’ll never know the things we did
Before we got this old
There wasn’t any FaceBook
So not everything was told.
We may seem sweet old ladies
Who would never be uncouth,
But we grew up in the 60s –
If you only knew the truth!
There was sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll
The pill and miniskirts
We smoked, we drank, we partied
And were quite outrageous flirts.
Then we settled down, got married
And turned into someone’s mum,
Somebody’s wife, then nana,
Who on earth did we become?
We didn’t mind the change of pace
Because our lives were full
But to bury us before we’re dead
Is like red rag to a bull!
So here you find me stuck inside
For 4 weeks, maybe more
I finally found myself again
Then I had to close the door!
It didn’t really bother me
I’d while away the hour
I’d bake for all the family
But I’ve got no flaming flour!
Now Netflix is just wonderful
I like a gutsy thriller
I’m swooning over Idris
Or some random sexy killer.
At least I’ve got a stash of booze
For when I’m being idle
There’s wine and whisky, even gin
If I’m feeling suicidal!
So, let’s all drink to lockdown
To recovery and health
And hope this awful virus
Doesn’t decimate our wealth.
We’ll all get through the crisis
And be back to join or mates
Just hoping I’m not far too wide
To fit through the flaming gates!
Living here in Southwick, having a garden and allotment and space to walk meant that for us the first lockdown was not the nightmare it has been for so many: it had some unexpected bonuses. We maximised our ‘free’ time by spending it outside either in the garden, allotment or walking round the area having ‘socially distanced’ conversations with friends. We used pre-arranged phone calls to alert friends living locally we were going to pass by whilst they were on their doorstep! Ironically we saw more of some friends than we would have normally done!
Another bonus: one neighbour in our road set up a Whatsapp group which meant that local information on availability of products was shared and often neighbours would do some shopping for us - this positive has been the feeling of community that has developed and we now know more neighbours.
Some of the fruit and veg went into over- production: our plum trees produced over 150lbs plums which took a huge amount of effort to cook, jam and mostly distribute to neighbours and friends. The tomato seeds I sowed, flourished and I had over 75 seedlings…so I decided to repot them and distribute 60 of them to neighbours.
Clearly the summer weather meant we could take more time to enjoy our local environment and see ‘socially distanced’ friends outside, however the subsequent lockdowns have coincided with autumn/ wintery weather and it is now more socially challenging. The days seem to blend into each other even though there is still gardening to do, however our recent highlight is to have a hedgehog returned to us and know that it is currently living in one of our hog hotels. Victor, the hog, was found close to death in a neighbour’s garden, I passed it onto a friend who tends them and Victor came back last week. Our garden is part of a hedgehog highway, and it is likely that he will move on to another nest sometime, although we provide both dried kitten food and water on a daily basis. As long as he survives, mates and progeny then we will be happy.
I do miss the Horticultural Society meetings but appreciate they can’t happen yet. So hope you are keeping well, keep safe and have the best festive frolics possible.
Every time I think of 2020, my friends words...in early January, come flooding back, “I think 2020 is going to be a good year, it’s got a nice ring to it” how wrong she, & I’m sure many others, words would turn out to be. Maybe a few scientists & doctors had an idea, but on the whole we were all completely unaware.
I think it became a year when many of us became more aware of technology & it’s benefits for keeping in touch. A steep learning curve to embrace get togethers on Zoom & Teams & also to use other platforms to virtually & visually keep in touch. I still have FaceTime dinner with family, usually instigated by middle granddaughter! We order food from Cook & then eat in our own homes. I’ve learnt now, that whatever time they say, they will be late!
I had to shield as an Extremely Clinically Vulnerable person, which was hard. It was a game changer on 1st June when I could go out for exercise. Joe Wicks & his “seniors workout” & an indoor walking app were a chore & quickly lost their appeal.
I spent a lot of time in the garden chatting to people as they walked past, but also gardening, my garden has never been so well tended. The offers of plants from various people was an excellent idea, enabling many people to start growing, even though Garden Centres were closed. People sharing & offers of help & clapping on a Thursday evening certainly brought about a sense of community in our area.
My three neighbours, with adjoining back gardens, decided early on that we would have tea and a chat at 2.30. We started off wearing coats & scarves & quickly progressed to summer clothes. In the first few months we didn’t have to abandon our meeting due to rain, amazing given our normal weather. We had a VE Day party with a cream tea & Pimms & decorated our gardens with flags & bunting. We also dressed appropriately in patriotic red, white & blue, with Vera Lynn singing in the background. We all commented on how clear the skies were with the lack of planes & without the traffic noise, birdsong was more evident. The lowered pollution levels was a definite improvement. It’s really made me think about the use of plastics & walking more to shop locally, especially as so many local businesses have been so innovative in their attempts to survive lockdown.
The big downsides for me have been the cancellation/postponement of outings & holidays & not being able to have friends to stay, which used to happen frequently. I’ve missed all the group meetings & seeing the friends regularly that I’ve made through these groups. I hope that they do all survive & that they will be stronger when we can meet again. I find it hard now that we are in Tier 2, that we can only meet outside, the weather isn’t really conducive for outdoor meetings, other than a quick chat.
This is also the time of year when I would be going to Nativity Plays & Carol Concerts, Pantos & Ice Skating, watching my granddaughters taking part in their various Christmas shows & activities. It does seem strange to have nothing like this on my calendar & it’s very much missed. The overload of Christmas lights & decorations will have to suffice, even though it will mostly be me, looking at them. We now have pantomime tickets for 2022, seems unbelievable & a long way in the future!
I think the one thing we’ve all felt is that health & keeping family & friends safe are so important...& that maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the first COVID vaccination programme commencing.