The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 11

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(image is a free download to colour in from hello@deborahpanesar.com)

 

I suppose it is telling me something that I am only getting round to starting this on Friday this week.

As I write this we await to hear officially, the changes about to come with our shift into Phase 2 of lockdown on Monday. This will likely mean being allowed to travel 20km for non essential purposes and all small non-essential shops being allowed to open. Over 70’s and others who have been cocooning will be able to have visitors for short periods, under strict conditions such as social distancing and everyone wearing gloves and masks and the rest of us can meet friends in groups of up to 6 indoors for a short time with the same precautions as when visiting cocooners. There will also be more people allowed to attend funerals than the current 10 people, but only immediate family still. Some elements of Phase 3 are likely to be brought forward such as larger stores with entrances onto streets can re-open and some children’s playgrounds, if they can be supervised and disinfected regularly, may also reopen. Marts are also re-opening so farmers can sell livestock. Shopping centres are still to remain closed as are restaurants and cafes for all but take-aways, pubs, hairdressers and barbers.

Small changes but a little normality beginning to return.

The slogan is changing from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Local’, so I’d have to change the blog title anyway but I do feel it has served its purpose now.

Actually we have just heard the distance we can travel for non essential journeys has been extended not to 20km as expected but to anywhere in our own county. Co. Cork is huge so I am not sure that feels like a good or safe move at the moment. It does though allow tourism to move towards re-opening at the end of this month so will possibly help the economy. On top of this we have just heard that instead of 5 phases in the easing out of lockdown we now only have 4 as things are being shifted around. This means one more phase at the end of June and one in July if everything goes alright. One thing that doesn’t change in the current crisis is how fast things change, how often we need to readjust our thinking and how important it is to bend and go with the flow.

I think everyone is a little stunned by the changes to Phase 2 and the relaxing of a lot of the lockdown. I know some small shops and even larger stores that have been caught off guard by being told they can reopen on Monday and who are actually deferring their reopening for some days to get ready properly. It does feel a lot all at once but I am sure we will all survive. No-one says we have to go shopping, drive around the county or rush to book holidays here or abroad after all.

So what has my last week been like apart from this? Much like the others really and I actually expect that to be the same in the weeks ahead even with the new changes to our lockdown. As I said I will continue to choose not to travelling far, use public transport or physically visit shops unnecessarily. I will also continue to meet friends outdoors on the grounds that I don’t want anyone in my house at the moment so wouldn’t expect to be in someone else’s either.

Plans are afoot here to pedestrianise streets in a number of our small towns to give people more space to socially distance, to allow cafes and restaurants to have outdoor seating for take-aways and generally to make it all a bit more comfortable. This would be brilliant but whether any of this happens remains to be seen although funds have been made available to support it so maybe it will.

The amazing weather we had been having has now disappeared with cooler weather and strong winds arriving. It has been incredible being able to eat and have drinks outdoors in the garden most days so I hope summer returns soon. I am much more suited to a mediterranean climate than an Irish one 🙂

It has also been great having the time and space to be outside in the garden, tidying and making some much needed improvements. I have really enjoyed being closer to nature and observing the changes in trees, plants and wildlife, both in the garden and when walking. This is something I always mean to do and which as an OBOD Ovate student I really should be doing, but life usually gets in the way somehow. Last evening I was down in the part of our garden that is given over to wildlife, everything is allowed to do it’s own thing, it is not ‘gardened’ ever and so is a space I watch from afar rather than step in to very often. Yesterday though I stood down in the space and realised that we had inadvertently allowed nature to create a grove of Pine, Apple, Plum, Ash and Hawthorn, all without us doing anything. This is brilliant for me as I now have a grove to work in as well as a stone circle. I intend to hold onto this closeness to nature long after lockdown ends.

We also braved Lidl this week as my husband needed a few things that they had in as specials. Our Lidl is an older store and aisles are narrow so it is harder to move and socially distance than in our newer Aldi. Neither of us felt very comfortable so I think this will be our one and only trip there for the foreseeable future, unless they should get some dumbbells in (which I still need) of course. While we were out I nipped into SuperValu supermarket as it is the only place I can get Ramen and Soba noodles for some reason. This felt ok so it is nice to know that I can shop there for things I can’t get in my shopping delivery. Nice to have some choice without feeling unsafe.

I have just been asked to take part in the trial, track and contact trace app for the virus here so of course have said yes. I needed to answer lots of questions online and now have to access the app and record my symptoms or lack of them daily. This is all anonymous and all data is deleted after the trial but it will at least help get it to a state where it can be unrolled for community tracing. It feels a vital part of our moving forward and living with the virus.

This will be my last blog post in this vein, so this is me signing out. I’ll post when there are any big changes or when I feel the need and am sure I will be blogging about other aspects of my journey in the future, so I will see you all again at some point. Stay safe x

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 10

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 10

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I am not sure how much longer I will keep writing the ‘diary’ now. I began as it felt important to keep a record of these times, what was happening, what I was going through etc for myself so I would never forget what it was like. I seem though to have reached the point where nothing much is changing week by week. I am still staying at home, still keeping within the 5km when exercising and still getting our food shopping delivered.

We are now in the second week of Phase 1 of our easing of lockdown. If all goes well and our R number stays low then further easing will take place on June 8th including the distance for non essential travel being extended to 20km. A good amount of a 20km radius from us will be in the sea, so again I don’t envisage a lot changing here although for others it may as they will be able to reach the beach for the first time in weeks. This is lovely for them but will of course will make it busier and potentially less safe for those of us who live here so it’s not all good.

Some non essential retailers and businesses are likely to be allowed reopen but at the moment I can think of nothing I would like to do less than go shopping for anything that isn’t essential. I certainly can’t imagine choosing to go browsing in clothes shops for example. Just the thought of handling things that others have handled and trying on things that others have tried on, leaves me cold. I was reading in one of the Uk papers about clothes and shoes having to be quarantined if they were tried on or returned and not being able to touch things in shops, if that’s the same here maybe the future of shopping looks nothing like the past. I can’t imagine the little clothes shop in our nearest town, run by a lovely Italian who imports beautiful clothes, being able to survive if it is.

I’m wondering if this is to be the new norm? The feeling of not wanting to do things that previously were the norm for example. Or as the virus has less hold on us will things change again and will we become less cautious? Only time will tell I suppose.

There were no deaths from the virus here on Monday but there are still new cases every day. Lower than they were but still there. The problem is we know county by county the number of new cases but Co. Cork where I live is a big county and includes Cork City. Early on we were told where clusters of infection were but now we never get this information so have no idea whether it is safe to relax our guard slightly or not. It does make things harder than they could be but on the other hand it does stop us being complacent.

This all sounds a bit doom and gloom so I apologise for that. I think I just needed to take the time to reflect a little on where things are at the moment.

Having started this blog post by saying nothing is changing I have since discovered that is not true at all. I could have gone back and rewritten everything but then it wouldn’t have been a true reflection of where I am in any way. So I have left it as it was.

As part of Phase 1 we are allowed to meet up outdoors in groups of up to four people as long as we stay socially distanced and of course stay outside. So, one day this week we went to  lunch in the garden of some friends ,which was really lovely and the first time we have seen anyone, other than in passing by when out walking, for weeks now. I also met a friend for a socially distanced take away coffee. Perched on a wall near the coffee shop we spent a happy half hour catching up. We had been talking throughout on WhatsApp but there is nothing like a catch up in person to make things seem more normal. We had another invitation to call to friends who have bought a new table and chairs so they could have outdoors catchups. We couldn’t go as the shopping delivery was due but it’s there for another time and of course we can also have return visits. This is all a huge change and even though it is not normal in any way we are really lucky to be able to do it and to be blessed with amazing weather so we can comfortably be outside. Long may it last.

Being at home more means I am spending more time noticing changes in the garden, one of which is that we now have a tiny baby bunny. It turned up early in the week and was right down by the conservatory door, all alone. It has entertained us nibbling anything and everything it has come across, things that are growing and leaves on the ground from where we had the hedges trimmed. It’s clearly not fussy. We saw it the other day, half way down the garden with an adult rabbit so it is safe and being looked after.

I have also been amazed at the number of different shades of Aquilegia there are this year, maybe they are like it every year but I am too busy to notice. We have purple and white, pink and white, pale pink, deep maroon, dark pink, plain purple, lilac, white and purple and I am sure some I have missed. They are nearly gone over now but the foxgloves are on their way. Between the two they do kind of take over the garden, dwarfing some of our pots but I would hate them not to be there so am happy to put up with the overgrown areas for the weeks they are in flower and let then seed so we have some next year before tidying up. Were have tried transplanting then to the world area but they aren’t having it at all 🙂 IMG_0723

The other plus of being home and not being able to work is that I have managed to get back to my Ovate training with the OBOD. Looking back I can see I began this 5 years ago and I am at best half way through. The saying that it is the journey not the destination couldn’t be more appropriate than it is here.

Of course one of the highlights this week was the space launch of Crew Dragon which we watched live on television before standing out in the garden to see if we could see it pass over. I saw a flash of light about 8.40pm which would have been right and then at 10.10 we watched the space station fly overhead but sadly didn’t see the Crew Dragon again. Nice to simply know it was there flying high above us though.

And finally to finish on a note of positivity, many of the restaurants and cafes here are opening at weekends to provide take away meals. One such cafe ‘Cracked’, in our nearest town is celebrating opening six months ago. Their food is lovely and we are all delighted to see them still in business having opened and then had to close due to the virus. To celebrate their six months they had an Facebook draw for a picnic box for 4 people and I won it. I never win anything so I am delighted. On the grounds we have seen enough people this week it will feed the two of us for the whole weekend 🙂