Thoughts in a locked-down world

I’ve opened up WordPress a few times in the last couple of weeks, since these increasingly strange days began, bringing with them so much change – at first little by little, then something new, bigger and more overwhelming each day; until within a matter of weeks the world around us is completely unrecognizable. Each time I’ve dipped back in here, I’ve found it impossible to know where to begin – what to write, how to reconcile the reality we find ourselves in with where ‘normal life’ left off such a short time ago. I have two drafts I’d been waiting to post, both of which I’ve found myself just staring at in disbelief that they can possibly feel so distant already: One about a road trip I took with my daughter just at the end of January, up round some of our favourite places in Highland Perthshire – driving freely, popping in and out of small shops, chatting with walkers in the woods, visiting family – all things I could never have imagined would be taken away from us within weeks. The other, my March reading diary, a regular post I’ve been keeping running in my drafts each month with notes on the books I’ve read throughout, and then posted all together at the end of the month. This one begins with a book I went to the launch of on March 1st, on a wonderful night out with a lovely friend, having dinner, drinks, and sitting in a room packed full of people listening to the author speak. That we can have gone from that to this in a little over three weeks is almost unbelievable – and yet here we are.

I just wanted to post a hello, and a hand-hold out across this online world – now all of a sudden really our only way of connecting in the world – to you all. We entered our own isolation at home here just over a couple of weeks ago now, as my daughter and husband both came down with what we’re sure was just a cold, but had a cough with it, so we began a period of household isolation for 14 days. We watched from inside as the wider world changed a little more every day, with social distancing measures introduced for all, isolation lengths and vulnerable groups guidance updated, workplaces closing, public facilities, then schools and nurseries, cafes and restaurants; until finally we got to where we found ourselves here on Monday night: total lockdown. Every day, after our new routine – my husband working from home in a little pop-up office in our kitchen and me filling our daughter’s day with activity as best I can in just about every other room of the house; we come together to watch the daily briefing at 5pm, and hear the latest on all the efforts to battle this virus.

That is really all that matters in the midst of all this. All of the vast changes we might have had to make to our daily lives in the last few weeks – even adjustments that may have felt so difficult, like replacing the much-valued company of family and friends with phone conversations and video calls; pale into insignificance alongside the experience of those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. It is tragic how many lives have been lost so far across the world, and all I hope for is that we can keep this at bay as much as we possibly can, and keep as many people as possible well and healthy. These are huge and unprecedented days, and all this is so very disconcerting; but all we can do is our best to stay as safe for ourselves and each other as we can and follow all the advice as it updates and changes with all the new research that is being worked on so tirelessly, until those amazing people who can achieve it can find a way to conquer this.

In the meantime, we adjust to life as it is for the time being. Since our own household isolation ended yesterday, I’ve been able to return to the farm to check on Charmer after the longest time away from him I’ve had in years, which I’m so thankful for; although of course keeping it to the absolute minimum, just what’s essential to keep him well and looked-after. I’m very grateful to the others at the farm who kindly looked after him while I couldn’t, and to our yard owners who have put so much in place to ensure we can have a small isolated slot each day to care for our horses without risking crossing paths with each other – and also that there are plans in place for if we do find ourselves unable to visit.

Being on maternity leave has meant life is very different for me than it would have been otherwise, as I would have been working more than ever in what is currently the most impossible time of crisis in the world of home care – a challenging one to keep staffed and running efficiently and safely for all our vulnerable clients at the best of times. As it stands, I can’t do anything to help at the moment, just days away from giving birth, other than hope and pray for the safety and health of my colleagues and clients – and all who are out there working in so many different fields to keep others as safe as they possibly can.

My days are being spent at home looking after my two-year-old, where I’m very grateful to be able to be; and every day I’m more amazed by her perspective on all this and how she is adapting to such completely different routines and taking it all in her stride. For our new little one, due to join us this very week, this will be such a strange time to be born. All is well with the baby, which is wonderful, but I did have to go for a check up at the weekend, after a couple of concerns and having missed a couple of regular ante-natal checks due to being in isolation; and it was a strange experience being taken into the hospital “red zone”, face mask on, to be seen. When I got in there, though, the midwife was beyond kind, caring and reassuring; all staff just doing the most wonderful job imaginable even at such an overwhelming time for them all.

Everything around us is just so unknown just now, and it’s good to have a little outlet here, to gather thoughts and to read and write in the midst of it all. I will write more soon – for one thing with possibly the biggest list of books I’ve ever read in one month before, which I’ve found to be the most wonderful escape in an unsettling time; and also with how we’re keeping busy, especially the little one, in these strange days, as we hole up, take care and wait for our newest addition to join us. In the meantime, hope everyone is well, stay safe, and take care all. xx

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