I know that everyone has been affected differently by the various lockdowns imposed on the UK over the last 15 months, but I can only tell my own story, and how I have worked my way through to the Prime Minister’s ‘irreversible’ ‘freedom day’ in July 2021.
In the UK, the first COVID-19 lockdown commenced in March 2020, when it was announced that people would only be allowed (lest we forget) to leave their homes for limited reasons, including food shopping, exercise once per day, medical need and travelling for work when absolutely necessary. All shops selling non-essential goods are told to close, and gatherings of more than two people in public are banned.
This meant a complete change of lifestyle for literally everyone in the country – young, old, married, living alone, working or not. As an individual living with one other and not working, how would this affect me? By nature, I’m not dependent upon gratification from others, and enjoy my own skin – both of which I knew would help me through whatever lockdown had in store. I have my friends but I’m not reliant upon groups or societies to justify my being.
I am lucky, I have the room to spread out in a large old house, and I have access to areas of natural beauty for my daily exercise, whether walking or cycling. I was always surprised to see how few others seemed to take up the opportunity, otherwise not easily open to them, to take daily exercise. I rarely met many others out and about even when we had all that sunny weather in spring and early summer 2020. It even made me wonder if I was abiding by the spirit of lockdown rules – but I was.
So, what to do and how to fill the waking hours. It never ended up being an issue, whilst, not having to home educate or work from home, it became a simple matter of choice as to how best to spend my time, and keeping myself engaged physically and mentally. It never seemed a hardship, and we never went without what was needed to sustain ourselves, and acquire goods, whether online or in the limited range of shops which were left open.
I never had a great love affair with decorating – and certainly not with wallpapering – but, much in the same way with gardening, I did it because it was there to be done, and it was a diversion from normal day-to-day activities. The non-living areas of our 3 storey house were in need of some TLC, so I started at the top and worked my way down from the top landing to the front door – a long journey, and I managed every high place without resorting to scaffolding, with judicious use of ladders and brush/roller extensions. It’s naturally a dark house, so needed a good lightening up. Parchment was chosen as the single emulsion paint shade. It’s a warm off-white and suits admirably, and worked well with the Oxford Blue gloss for the dado rails and Brilliant White for the skirtings. It took a few weeks, with some walls needing multiple coats – and the weather outside was good, so I made sure I breathed fresh air as well as paint fumes. I ordered from Wickes online and collected from my nearest store without fuss.
Prior to this, I can’t remember when I last did one. I found a space which would take the size of picture with all pieces surrounding it. I found that 500 pieces was the optimum for me. I tried larger ones (1000+ pieces) but it was too much for my brain to take in happily. Some I bought from online catalogues, and some I had made from favourite photographs. I rattled off 24 such puzzles in short shrift. Some have since been donated to charity, but at least I took a photo of each one.
(The artistic type). Having rollered my way to decorating success, I felt something a little more delicate was required. But I’m not a natural artist, so thought I’d have a go at Painting By Numbers – rightly popular across the world. Some would say that it’s cheating and not real painting. It’s no more cheating than knitting from a pattern, or doing anything from a set of instructions, and at least with PBN, it’s only a guide, and you can change the template to better effect, colours or drama – which I found that I could do with confidence on numerous occasions. I have completed 14 so far – I’ve left this for the time being but will undoubtedly return to it at some point. As mentioned in a previous post, I have dabbled with abstract art but haven’t yet found the set of circumstances which fit the required mindset.
I started this series of short vignettes from my life experience just prior to lockdown #1, and this post is the 40th in the series. It’s classic lockdown therapy, with the bonus of giving me the chance to reflect.
I have always written – gaining school successes at A level in English and Use of English (an ‘O/A’, I think this was) – and at work continuously, writing business proposals, strategy documents etc. There’s a real delight in testing my mind to find exactly the right words, and, in my case, generally keeping it light and interesting for my dear readers. AND, when that day comes when I am here no longer, my words, paintings and my music album The Other End of the Wheel will help serve as a permanent reminder of who I was, and what made me tick.
I’ve also been lucky to share lockdowns with Sue, who has helped immeasurably in giving me space and keeping us rolling along in the right direction over the months. It seems to have been quite easy in so many ways, as we don’t set high targets for ourselves, and we have tried to treat what life has thrown at us recently, as a long, slightly hilly bike ride, with a welcoming pub somewhere down the lane ahead.