We’ve just finished the ninth week of lockdown in the UK. Nine weeks since BoJo announced that we must all stay home and save lives.
“From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.” Boris Johnson, 23 March 2020
Whilst I’d already been working from home and in a self-imposed lockdown for a few days, it was only that day that Adam had stopped working and was to be furloughed. That evening, as we drank our bottles of Corona and watched the announcement on TV, it was confirmed that for the foreseeable future the two of us were going to have to spend 24/7 together.
In many ways that announcement feels like a lifetime ago, but at the same time it feels like only yesterday. Days and weeks have become a blur, so I’ve been grateful of having the work routine to give me a bit of structure to my weeks. The idea of being furloughed has seemed appealing at times, but I know I’d quickly be going round the bend if I had to entertain myself day in, day out.
It’s taken me a while to settle in to a new routine, but not having the (albeit relatively short) commute to and from work each day I quickly realised how much more time I’d have on my hands. A good job seeing as I was going to be spending a lot more time in the kitchen cooking dinner; we’d normally eat out three times a week but suddenly I was responsible for ensuring there was a meal on the table seven nights a week. In reality it’s only six, as we quickly decided to make the most of takeaways (to support local businesses) on Saturday nights.
The first few weeks I hardly left the flat. I’m lucky that Adam has been happy to go to the shops to pick up food – to this day I’ve been unable to get an Ocado delivery, though we did finally get a Tesco delivery last Monday – so I haven’t needed to go out. It’s been interesting coming up with meals based on random items he could find in the shop, but nothing has been a disaster so far.
In the first week we popped to our nearest park one evening but I was freaked out by the number of people that were there. I started going out for short walks periodically, but it didn’t feel right. After the Easter weekend I didn’t leave the flat for six days and I realised I was beginning to go stir crazy. To break up the working day from our evenings, we started going for a walk when I finished working – our daily allowed exercise – and it felt so good. We may not have been able to go far, but getting some fresh air and exploring the local neighbourhood became something to look forward to. Being stuck at the desk in the corner of our sitting room 8+ hours a day, staring at a screen and trying to be engaged during video calls is harder work than being in a bustling office. It’s been eye opening getting to know Camberwell better – the place I’ve called home for 11 years! More on that another time.
There’s been a lot of talk about the things people are doing during lockdown with all this free time on their hands. People are learning new languages; making their side hustle their business; binge watching all those TV boxsets they’ve never got round to; and having various levels of success in attempting to make sourdough bread.
I don’t feel like I’ve had time to do any of these things. I’m just about finding the time and brainpower to do the bits and bobs I’ve been meaning to do around the flat. We have been binge watching Friends (again), though now that’s come to an end we’re not sure what to watch next (don’t recommend Tiger King – from what I’ve seen, I don’t get it). My backlog of photos to sort through continues to grow. From day one I’ve been saying I’m going to get this blog up and running.
I have achieved a few things during this time though:
- I cleared out my wardrobe – shame the charity shops aren’t open for my large donation of clothes
- I’ve finally planted some plants on the balcony and am growing some teddy bear sunflowers
- I cleaned the windows – I won’t admit how many times I’ve done that in the 9.5 years since I moved in
- I’ve signed up to my first ever cross stitch stitchalong, the biggest cross stitch project I’ve ever done
While lockdown measures are starting to be eased, with some children due to go back to school just next week, I don’t feel ready to return to whatever normal life will be. It looks like I’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future, which is a lot more appealing than walking the ~1 hour walk each way or getting on a bus.
I’m quite enjoying life in my little bubble. Of course I’m missing friends and family – some of whom I haven’t seen this year – and the lack of freedom to go out and enjoy this city that I’ve chosen as home. But life has slowed down and that part of this situation is something that I’m learning to appreciate.
So many positives, the challenge is to keep those delights you have discovered and not get drawn back to consumption driven old normal when a different normal emerges.