I’d got back into my house on Monday 25th May 2020. While it was nice to be back in my own home, rather than in temporary homes, I was still conscious that I should have been on the other side of the world! Also, I’d sold all my furniture, including beds, and car. Helen very kindly lent me a dining table and tv and I bought a fabulous inflatable king size bed which I thought would suffice as didn’t think the pandemic would last too long. However, it soon appeared obvious that wouldn’t be the case so I bought a proper bed in October and on 1st July bought a 13 year old Fiesta, with one previous owner and less than 60,000 miles on the clock.
During the first lockdown I’d got into an exercise routine of every other day doing an online workout with Annie (who’d qualified, after years of my encouragement, as a Personal Trainer) or finding one on YouTube; a long walk and took up yoga (yogawithadriene on YouTube). I also made a point of watching the daily Coronavirus bulletins from Downing Street. Although I normally hate routine it felt right and necessary to have one. I discovered places and footpaths I hadn’t known existed, took my camera with me posting on Facebook (much appreciated by my friends downunder) and gradually built up to walking 18 miles. At that stage we weren’t allowed to travel by car in order to exercise so it meant walking locally only.
I bought a car when things had relaxed somewhat and we were able to travel. I enjoyed 2 trips to Annie’s and she visited me; was in Helen and Richard’s ‘bubble’ (single people being allowed to join another household) having first stayed with them so visited, met up and housesat for them when they went away for a few days. I met up with other friends and once non essential shops opened again went back to the Red Cross bookshop to volunteer. As a result the walks tailed off, the workouts with Annie lessened (although still once or twice a week) and I gave up yoga, blaming too many downward dogs on having caused a bad shoulder. It was great being in the bookshop again but there were only a few volunteers as some were shielding or too nervous to work. Despite my having several boxes of unread books (which had been locked away with other household goods in my attic room) I couldn’t help but buy more!
From the start of the first lockdown Caroline Young had started FaceTime Live videos of her reading children’s picture books, so many of them beautifully illustrated. This was fun as we’d all comment to her and each other, which could sometimes get a bit rude. Eventually she cut down on the readings until stopping all together as lockdown stopped.
Having sold my 30 year old bicycle, before going travelling, for a song I desperately needed another. During lockdown we were being encouraged to walk or cycle, rather than drive a car, which meant a dearth of bicycles. Some rusty old bikes were going for silly prices on eBay or Gumtree and the bicycle shops said they wouldn’t get any in for months. My friend Margaret offered me her bicycle (hardly used as she didn’t really take to cycling) which had been hanging up in the garage. She and Paul very kindly brought it over to me in June as I had no way, at that stage, of getting to them. It was the first time I’d seen them since leaving for Auckland. I got in touch with Eric (leader of the cycling group I used to belong to) and started to meet up with him once a week for some long cycle rides.
To write: Deaths – funerals; meeting up with squash girls;
Mini London trip
I’d booked a 3 night trip to London from 3 – 6 November with accommodation in Easyhotel Victoria and return coach travel for less than £100. However, on Saturday 31st October Boris announced Lockdown #2 to start on Thursday 5th November for four weeks until 2nd December. He had been resisting this wanting instead to continue with the tier system in place regionally (the highest being almost lockdown) but the ever increasing virus cases and deaths made it necessary. I decided it would be prudent to cancel the whole trip but thought I could just do one night, returning the evening before lockdown (much to the chagrin of a couple of friends!).
I was glad I did. On the coach to London there were only about 7 of us. There was just one man who spent the whole journey with his mask around his neck and talking loudly to his friend opposite, who respectfully wore his mask for the whole journey (at this stage it was law to wear face coverings on public transport). Strangely the unmasked man immediately put his mask on when he got off the coach!
I made my way straight to the Natural History Museum and managed to get a ticket for the ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’. It was very busy and difficult to socially distance (which I pointed out to a member of staff who then made an announcement) and there were two women with toddlers in pushchairs whose toddlers weren’t at all interested in the photographs and proceeded to scream. One of the mothers had to be told to keep the pushchair with het as she kept abandoning it, and its occupant, in the middle of the floor. It beats me why they allowed pushchairs and such young children in and it wasn’t the pleasant experience I’ve enjoyed in previous years.
The next day I went to Tate Britain for ‘Turner and the modern world’ exhibition described: ‘How J.M.W. Turner broke with convention to pain the times in which he lived……a landmark exhibition’.
I was a little early so sat on a bench overlooking the river and read my book for 30 minutes. It was a beautiful day. All the while I was there, a young woman was skipping in various ways (I think it would have been a fit rope that she had – all the rage). The exhibition was also busy but it was always possible to socially distance, moving to paintings that weren’t being looked at. I loved it although it was quite long (8 rooms) but hadn’t appreciated just how prolific a painter he was and the variety of scenes he captured. He certainly had a very full and interesting life and was well travelled. After the exhibition I walked the collection routes (one way, which is what is currently happening in museums, galleries and National Trust houses) from 1545 to the present.
My return coach left Victoria Coach Station at 6pm and was due in Cheltenham at 9.15pm, however it took at least 2 hours to get out of London which was gridlocked – I assume people were leaving to spend lockdown in their second homes! Despite that we arrived in Cheltenham one hour later than scheduled so not too bad.
Lockdown #2 Thursday 5th November – Wednesday 2nd December 2020
I regret not having kept a diary of events during the first lockdown so decided to keep one for this second one as, this time, we have an end date, although it could still be extended…
Day 1: Despite getting to bed late last night I met up with Eric as planned for a cycle ride as it was such a lovely day. We took our own lunch, cycled to Bredon sitting by the river there (we’d done this on an earlier trip) and then to Tewkesbury picking up a cup of tea and cake (no sitting in allowed in cafes at this stage, just takeaways) and sitting by the river there. We clocked up 54km so not too shabby! Good news was that my friend Jill’s daughter had a baby boy this afternoon who they named Freddie Jack (wonder why they didn’t call him Guy, being born on Guy Fawkes’ day!)
Day 2: Having not done a long walk since first lockdown (I’d been having problems with my back and thighs which made long walks difficult) and another lovely day I did a 9 mile walk to one of my previous haunts, Leckhampton Hill. I spotted a swing, which hadn’t been there before, which turned out to be a pop up swing and one of many places by an organisation. I couldn’t help myself and a man offered to take my photo. He said he’d just taken a photo of a man on bended knee proposing to his girlfriend. Another lovely day
Day 3: Not such an interesting day but did start off with a nice online workout with Annie and Graham, then a wander to the shops for ‘essential shopping’ and some much needed clearing up in the garden. Saturday evening and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. I’d given up on it 2 years ago but this year it’s just what’s needed!
Day 4: Remembrance Sunday. The full parade in London was cancelled for the first time in its history although the Queen and the usual suspects were still placing their wreaths at the Cenotaph and there were just 25 people marching. I’d last night watched a very scaled down version (no audience at all) of the usual annual concert from the Royal Albert Hall. It was suggested that we might stand for 2 minutes silence at 11am on our doorsteps this morning. I don’t know if anyone did in my road, but I didn’t. Had an online stability ball workout with Annie and Graham.
Day 5: Woke to the news that a vaccine has been developed that they think will prevent COVID-19 in 90% of people. Some good news amongst the negativity but with some caveats. Had originally planned to go cycling with Eric today but the forecast wasn’t great. However it turned out fine for the morning, but I didn’t have time to meet up with him. Spent all day at home mainly reading a book (well I’ve got several boxes of books to get through!)
Day 6: Apparently the UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine (enough for 20 million people as each had to have 2 doses). The first to get them will be care home residents, the staff and NHS workers. Felt guilty about not doing any exercise yesterday so, after watching Caroline’s FaceTime Live video reading a children’s Christmas story (with beautiful illustrations by Julie Veras) I went off for a walk. Honeybourne Line to Pittville Park, Cox’s Meadow (a first visit for me in nearly 14 years of living in Cheltenham!) Bath Road for some ‘essentials’ from Sainsbury’s and home.
Day 7: Had an online workout with Annie and then did a brisk walk along the Honeybourne line to meet Wendy (fellow Red X bookshop volunteer) in Pittville Park 50 minutes later. It was good to have a catch-up with her and a hot chocolate as we ambled around both sides of the Park. We’re allowed to meet up with one person outside.
Day 8: Met Eric for a cycle ride using cycle route 41 (which goes all the way to Bristol) to Gloucester. We stopped for a takeaway tea and croissant in the docks and enjoyed the sunshine. Back a different way. It was, pleasingly, a non hilly day!
Day 9: (Friday 13th!) I did a brisk walk, a very long way round, to pick up my repeat prescription. Back home for lunch then got into the car to go to Aldi but the battery was dead. Called the RAC and, 6 hours later, they arrived leaving me £110 lighter – the cost of a new battery.
Day 10: Nothing much today except an Aldi shop and ‘Strictly’ to enjoy in the evening.
Day 11: After an online workout with Annie I met up with Monica, not having seen her for several weeks, for a socially distanced catch up in Montpellier and Imperial Gardens with a takeaway hot chocolate. Good news today that a second vaccine will be available which trials found to be 95% effective.
Day 12: Cycling with Eric to Tewkesbury, sitting by the river with tea and cake. Managed 54 km today.
Day 13: A grey day but no rain. Walked to Leckhampton Hill but did it the other way round for a change! Nearly talked myself out of going on the way, but glad I did in the end. Later had a short walk with Malcolm (a neighbour), in our local parks, and a catch up over a takeaway drink.
Day 14: Online workout with Annie and Graham. Graham’s sister, Bev, has been joining in. A rainy day so pottered about and made some cheese scones and soup.
Day 15: A wonderful, if hard, day’s cycling with Eric to Evesham (77km in all). A chilly but sunny day. As we were locking up the bikes to go to Gregg’s for a takeaway cuppa (slice of pizza for Eric and vegan sausage roll for me) we were approached by a man who asked if he could take our photo in order to sketch us. By the time I got home he’d emailed it. He’s captured me (and my thunder thighs vert well) not Eric so well though.
Day 16: First Cinnamon Trust assignment. Wet
Day 17: Spent the morning in the bookshop with Wendy
Day 18: Online workout with Annie etc, read and did some gardening
Day 19: cycling with Eric – Deerhurst Church, St George’s Bakery Corse for past and cuppa, lovely ride along ridge in Maisemore to Gloucester Docks for one of Eric’s teas and back via Sandhurst Lane and Down Hatherley. We heard the official news from Boris that 3 households can mix over Christmas between 23 – 27 December
Day 20 Beast of a workout in the morning before taking car for winter service
Day 21: Working in the bookshop with Wendy sorting Christmas displays, to later be joined by Jon, Judy and Kath. Good fun and got lots done. Head in my book later and a nice chat with Nicki
Day 22: Cycling, long way to Tewkesbury. Very cold, but sunny on way back. We found out that the majority of the country will be in tier 2 from Wednesday (end of this lockdown), but some anger from those in tier 3.
Day 23: I actually did some housework today
Day 24: Working in the bookshop this morning with Wendy, Jon, Nola, Heather, Kath and Judy. As I was nearly home I bumped into Peter Clegg, who I hadn’t seen since long before I went travelling. He was going for a walk so I joined him and had a good catch up. It was good to see him. Enjoyed ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ this evening – so joyful.
Day 25: Worked in the bookshop this morning with just Wendy and Jon. All looking very good…that won’t last!
Day 26: met up with Helen and walked along the Stroud Canal. Lunch Stonehouse
Day 27: The last day of second lockdown. A lovely day. Cycled with Eric to Upton upon Severn. Pasty and tea by the river. A couple carried a dog to sit by the river for a while and asked Eric to take a picture of them saying they were going to take their dog to be put down. That brought a tear to my eye. 60km in total today and I didn’t feel tired. Cycling two days a week is certainly helping.