I must admit this wasn’t exactly the homecoming experience we expected when we sold up our London flat at the end of last summer and relocated back to Inverness. To be honest I don’t think we really knew exactly what to expect once we moved, but I know coping with the Covid-19 crisis definitely wasn’t part of our plans!

It’s probably good we didn’t have any fixed ideas as such, beyond (1) finding somewhere to live and (2) finding work to be able to pay for it. Amazingly we found the house we wanted to buy very soon after we moved up from London, and have now both found jobs, so in that sense we’ve achieved what we hoped for.

We were already in a state of flux, already out of our comfort zones, and were just getting to the point of starting to feel properly settled into our new life after five months in our new home when lockdown began. So in a sense we’ve probably had less of an adjustment than many, because in a way life already felt up in the air for us.

Now everyone else’s life is up in the air too, no-one knows what will happen next, many businesses in many countries have been completely closed down for weeks, and world economies have suffered greatly. So right now we’re just focusing on being thankful at living here in Inverness instead of London, and taking it all step by step from there…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Homecoming

Day 63: So Near and Yet So far

Day 63 of Stay at Home here in Scotland, with the tantalising promise (if all goes well) of the beginnings of a slight lifting of lockdown restrictions later this week, in that outdoor contact will finally be allowed between two separate households, as long as social distancing is maintained.

To be honest I’m finding it really difficult right now to stay in what amounts to full lockdown mode while everyone in England has already had a taste of relative freedom for the last couple of weeks. Although in an attempt to reduce our collective frustration, thankfully last week our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shared in advance the Scottish Government’s full ‘Roadmap’ out of lockdown including the welcome announcement that Phase One of easing restrictions will begin on Thursday 28th May.

But until then, all previous Stay at Home rules apply… Sigh!

One week more of total lockdown for Scotland is not much to ask in the grander scheme of things – and the First Minister has given us fair warning of her future intentions – but to me it feels very much like that last week of work just before you go on a long-awaited leave. Your head is already in holiday mode but your job still needs to be done properly, conscientiously, with full focus. Yet all around you, you see friends already on holiday, enjoying their new-found comparative freedoms and forgetting that you have not yet reached that point.

I know there are absolutely no shortcuts to getting through this pandemic for anyone, huge mistakes have definitely been made along the way and we’ve got a long and bumpy road to travel yet, but personally I’m oh-so-ready to move on from this stultifying stagnant stage, however cautiously and carefully. I understand we need to take it all one step at a time, in the smallest of tentative baby steps if needs be, but I firmly believe in general we do need to begin to move on now. We have successfully flattened the curve of Covid-19 infection and protected the NHS, and that was what we were asked en masse to do.

We were neither asked nor expected – well, other than those shielding of course – to remain self-imposed reclusive captives in our own homes for unspecified months on end until an appropriate vaccine had been found and tested and approved before the world moved on again. But for the bulk of the population it makes sense that we learn to keep our distance and protect ourselves and others from infection, even if it means drastically change the way we live our lives outside the home for good. Because I think the time has come when we do all have to learn to live in the outside world again, even if it means going on living with this virus into the future, and not just exist in limbo as we have been.

I’m not in any way advocating acts of mass idiocy or individual selfishness, or of disregarding the rules or treating them with disdain. I’m simply saying it feels to me like it’s time as a nation the rules and expectations changed so we all stop floundering around treading water in absolute panic and start to learn to swim forward a little again, stroke by measured stroke, until we can gain enough confidence as a country to loosen our deadly coronavirus chains and as a people together look outwards once more to appreciating the everyday joys of living, instead of focusing inwards only on the fear of dying.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Shortcut

Sixty for Sixty

At the end of last month I wrote a list of 40 random thoughts for 40 days of lockdown, expecting – hoping – it all to be ending soon after that time… Well, for the beginning of the end to be starting, at least.

But here we are nearly three weeks later, and I’m still stuck at home just as I was then, so here I am writing another list, this time 60 random thoughts for 60 days of lockdown…

1 This pandemic sucks big time

2 Thankfully no-one I love has caught the virus yet

3 Coronavirus still sucks more than lockdown, but sometimes only just

4 I’ve missed five family birthdays so far

5 I miss seeing my family more than I can say

6 Hugs are truly precious

7 At least my husband and I have each other to hold

8 I’m oh-so-fed-up with being stuck at home on my own so much while my husband goes out to work

9 Who knew that even an introvert loner can have enough of their own company?

10 I miss that ordinary everyday easy passing-the-time-of-day with other people

11 Human beings are inherently social animals

12 Every day feels like Groundhog Day

13 My motivation to do stuff all the time is melting away

14 Time passes, no matter what

15 Sometimes idleness is ideal

16 Waiting without a fixed end date to aim for is horrible, even though I understand why

17 I make myself do something productive every day

18 Blogging keeps me going

19 Colouring in helps too

20 The simple joy of curling up quietly with a good book is returning at last

21 Routine stops me going mad

22 Housework as a hobby is fast losing its shine

23 I frequently ponder the philosophy of vacuuming in a vacuum

24 I fret over the futility of removing dust deposits that no-one sees anyway

25 I try to cook us nice meals every day

26 I’m getting bored of eating my own cooking all the time

27 At least there’s plenty of time to prepare fresh food

28 We do have a nicely situated dining table to eat at

29 I’ve stripped the old wallpaper off the dining room walls

30 Our new wallpaper is bought but not yet put up

31 I love living in our new house so much

32 For how long does a ‘new’ house count as new?

33 A full calendar year and experiencing all four seasons in our new home feels about right for me

34 I feel so grateful for having a conservatory

35 Growing plants is a symbiotic form of nurturing – I nurture my plants and they nurture me

36 How amazing to have a garden to enjoy

37 I delight in the acquisition of new gardening tools

38 I love the view from my kitchen window

39 Nature surprises me every day

40 Flowers don’t care about coronavirus, flowers just grow

41 Blackbirds sing their beautiful song to us every day

42 There are worse places to be during a lockdown

43 I’m so glad we moved out of London

44 Our tiny first floor flat would have been hell to be stuck in for the duration

45 Lockdown restrictions have already begun to be eased in England

46 We’re still all ‘Staying at Home’ for the time being in Scotland, at least until the end of next week

47 Social distancing, social distancing, social distancing…

48 Everything feels so near and yet so far

49 Solitude seeps silently through my soul

50 Do I have a sadness saturation point?

51 Depression slowly deepens my shadows

52 I know that this too shall pass

53 Vulnerability feels scary

54 A life lived in fear is a life half-lived, and I’m feeling that lack

55 Sometimes we have to feel the fear and do things anyway

56 What we cannot cure, we must endure

57 Time and tide wait for no man

58 Humanity needs to learn more humility

59 Nature needs to be respected more

60 Coronavirus is clearly something we’re all going to have to learn to live with long-term…

Who Won the Week: My Dad

Today my dad turns 84, and my husband and I called him this morning to sing ‘Happy birthday’ to him over the phone.

This birthday is particularly meaningful to me because my dad has just spent the last five weeks in hospital, finally getting home just before the weekend. Over the last few years he’s survived four strokes and has vascular dementia, meaning both his mobility and memory are restricted so when he developed a really high temperature just before Easter, in the middle of this deadly pandemic, we all feared the worst.

Dad was duly taken into hospital and we worried he might have Covid-19, which in his poor state of health would no doubt have finished him off. However, although dad had developed both a urine infection and a chest infection, thankfully they were the only sources of his high temperature and after over a month of wonderful care and treatment by everyone in hospital now he is safely home again.

So for me, my dad has definitely Won the Week this week, for getting well enough to come home for his birthday when only last month we’d all feared the worst. I’m really sad I still can’t go out to see him due to our continued lockdown, but I’m just so relieved he’s still with us – love you very much, Dad, and hopefully we’ll all see you soon ❤

Anxiety, Boredom and Creative Doom

Day 53 of lockdown, and I’m having a crap day. I just can’t be bloody bothered to try to be anything other than meh. My anxiety levels are simmering at just below screaming, my brain is bored of nothing but the same old, same old, day in, day out. And my motivation to be creative, which has been faltering fast lately, seems to have flat-lined completely.

So far today I’ve showered and washed my hair, I’ve done a load of washing and have hung it outside on the line, and I’ve tried to generate enough enthusiasm to take some photographs of a vase of flowers but honestly, my heart is just not in it today. I can’t even find the emotional wherewithal to go out for a walk, and that’s almost unheard of for me.

Do I wanna read? Nope. Do I wanna cook something nice? Nope. Do I just wanna sit here and stew in my own juice? Um… no, not really, but it’s what I seem to be doing. Enough already with the lockdown limbo blues, I’ve got no business feeling so down. Thankfully no-one I love has even caught coronavirus never mind died from it. Things could be so much worse.

But yet I feel increasingly dissatisfied, frustrated, tearful, angry, and on top of all of those feelings I feel guilty for struggling so much with having to spend a few measly weeks at home. In the grander scheme of things I know it’s really not such a lot to ask, but oh, how I want it to end soon. A month I was prepared for, even six weeks at a push. But two months feels like too much.

Physically I feel fine, mentally, not so great. Too much time to think with nowhere to go to get away from myself. No daily distractions from my depressive demons. Nothing to mask my melancholy misery. Just full-on me, annoying and irritating myself, getting in my own face 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’m holding on so far, but for how much longer… who knows 😦

Daily Diary: ‘Stay at Home’ Day 48

Four dozen days so far, seven weeks tomorrow, and frustratingly we are still in lockdown although apparently the Prime Minister is giving us a speech tonight about potential plans for finally grinding the gears of life back into some kind of forward motion action.

But it feels like all we’ve done is delayed the inevitable. Stuck in our seige mentality while holed up at home we may well have succeeded in suspending time temporarily, but the corona-clock is still ticking. The virus is still there, biding its time, waiting it out until we all stick our heads above the parapet and then boom, infections will begin all over again.

The world is well on the way to creating a vaccine – it’s in the process of being tried and tested, I understand, but we’re not there yet. I know loads of people have got sick, and far too many people have died (and are still dying every day), but in the grander scheme of things globally hardly any of us have had it and so it is not possible to have any level of herd immunity within the greater population.

To have abandoned the testing/ tracking/ tracing tactic so early on in the UK means we are now inevitably playing catch-up. We may have accurate hospital numbers but no clear idea of who exactly has had it for sure in a lesser milder form within the wider community, or indeed how many people may be asymptomatic yet shedding virus unintentionally, so it feels like we can have no clear exit strategy other than a messy hap-hazard sort of suck-it-and-see approach.

I’m not at all saying that lockdown has been the wrong strategy, but that lockdown alone should not have been the only strategy. ‘Stay at home’ was always about buying time, about delaying mass infections, keeping them coming in definable dribs and drabs rather than deadly droves. So surely it should also have given us the invaluable time behind the scenes to mass-test and have tracking and tracing running in the background so that we could have had detailed data by now?

I mean, we can’t all stay at home indefinitely – but we don’t really want to catch a virus that potentially may kill us, either. So personally I feel stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place – and it’s hard to see how nationally we can navigate such perilous straits apparently without either the necessary knowledge or equipment to see us successfully and safely through… 😦

The Empty Streets of Lockdown Limbo

It’s eerily quiet in Inverness town centre just now.

There are still a couple of essential shops open – shops selling food like Marks and Spencer and the Co-Op, and of course Boots the chemist (which was the main reason for my necessary walk through town the other day) but usually at this time of year Inverness is full of colours and sounds, full of tourists and locals alike mingling with occasional street performers like singers and kilted pipers adding to the general buzz of everyday life.

I took my camera with me, as I realised this would possibly be my only chance to record the empty streets of lockdown limbo – photographing a temporarily moth-balled ghost-town felt like an opportunity not to be missed. I didn’t wander while I was out, but I did deliberately walk back home a different way, creating a circular route that took in both the chemist and the supermarket without doubling back on myself.

It felt really strange and surreal to feel so alone and exposed in such a public space, like one of those weird nightmarish dreams where everyone has disappeared expect you. I did see a few other people out and about, walking as if on errands like myself, cautiously and considerately in the main, some with face masks and some without, but with everyone doing their best to keep a respectful distance from each other.

We’ve been in lockdown for six weeks now, and I’m hoping things will start moving again soon and restrictions can start to be lifted slowly but surely, allowing life to open up a little more each month while maintaining appropriate distancing measures. We still need to manage this deadly virus, without a doubt, but we need to achieve that in a way that is more manageable longterm.

Fingers crossed for a fledgling post-pandemic future for all of us, starting sooner rather than later, taking things one baby step at a time… One thing’s for sure, one way or another this current Covid 19 pandemic is certainly turning out to be an eye-opening education for all of us…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Education