Second #Lockdown in the UK

London during Lockdown source CNBC

Oh well, here we go again. We’ve turned the full circle and with COVID-19 gaining the upper hand, we’ve been forced into lockdown for a second time.

My gut feeling is the government didn’t want to do this but in a worst case scenario, do we really want to see our NHS stretched to breaking point with a deluge of COVID patients before Christmas?

The way things are going, numbers have soared this autumn yet the 3-tiered system is not working. Scientists have warned the virus will spread, working its way gradually down south, so why make towns in the north suffer alone? We are all in the same boat, so it makes sense – and if the whole of the UK can buckle down for one month, let’s pray we can get the infection rate down again.

It is sad but unavoidable so what can we do?

For me personally I have to look at this as an opportunity. Our work has dried up but there is still plenty to do around the house and garden. For example, I never did get around to painting the kitchen but it really needs doing and it would be great to get another DIY project ticked off the list. I also want to look at gardening websites and YouTube videos, to adopt some new practises for my own garden. Growing Dahlias for example. Inspired by a trip to West Dean Gardens and their fabulous display of dahlias, it would be a dream to establish such healthy plants but all this requires a little work and planning.

Dahlias at West Dean Gardens

Christmas will be different this year but I like a challenge. I am already considering what home made gifts I can come up with and getting creative in the home can be very therapeutic.

Yes, it will be harder for others but my advice is it’s essential to keep yourself busy during lockdown. Long periods spent dwelling, wishing you could do things that you can’t are not good for your health. You are allowed to exercise so get out and about even if it’s just for a walk. I’ve seen many people take photos, write blogs and channel anxiety into something good. So here are some photos I took at Leonardslee Gardens yesterday afternoon, a last minute treat before the countdown started and I shall cherish the memories.

But this brings me onto the more negative side of lockdown.

Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has triggered a sense of fear and anxiety around the globe especially among young people. Much of this is down to loneliness during lockdown and in particular, a lack of physical contact with friends and family, boredom and the frustration associated with not being able to engage in activities that have been a part of their lives.

I try to put on a brave face and stay positive but some mornings I wake up with this paralysing fear – not only of the virus but the thought of losing loved ones. It has been touch and go with some family members; one elderly relative admitted to hospital with heart problems and another with Crohn’s disease (an auto-immune condition which has a tendency to flare-up in times of stress). Both are okay, but vulnerable and have to shield, since the effects of contracting COVID could be devastating. 

The true cost of COVID-19 on mental health however, has not yet been realised and something happened last week that hit me very hard.

I heard on the grapevine a friend of a friend had died. I met Graham last year and only as a result of some research I was engaged in for my current novel. I have my friend, Dan Jones, to thank for introducing us, an author who I met via Chindi (local network of independent authors in Sussex). Dan worked in a number of children’s homes in the 90s. Yet he was happy to share his experiences with me.

As the book is centred around a group of fictitious children’s homes, I was intrigued by what he could tell me, until ultimately his best friend came into the discussion. Graham was in the care system through the late 1990’s and Dan met him when he was homeless. Regardless of his problems, he turned his life around and after completing a degree in social work, ended working in care himself, looking after troubled youngsters in homes. He also won an award for being someone in care who had achieved something.

As Dan said (and I quote) “He would have stories to tell you, spent time homeless, missed education, mixed with all sorts of people, yet turned things around. So he knows what the scene was like here in Bognor during the 1990’s for teenagers in a difficult home environment and in the care system.”

I feel blessed he agreed to meet me and within the space of an hour, gave some fascinating insights into the feelings of kids being brought up in care or fostered (thank God I kept the recordings). His answers provided the last pieces of the puzzle and not only that. He shared some amazing stories and in manner that was humorous and colourful. I would even go as far as to say he was the inspiration behind Joe, one of the main characters, a great guy who turned his life around and left a lasting impression.

But I wish I had got in touch. If only I had told him how much his little anecdotes helped me and out of respect, I am definitely going to include a tribute.

News of his death weighs down heavily but brings it home to me how temporary and fragile life is, especially in the era we are living in now.

Do you know anyone who might be affected? Make contact to check they’re okay and stay in touch. It might make all the difference.

To end on a positive note, I am still in the process of editing my novel and 50% through so it is all coming together very well indeed. I would also like to say a few more words about Dan, who’s heartache is unimaginable.

So for those who are feeling anxious, suffering from stress and have trouble sleeping, Dan creates therapeutic relaxing sleep stories for adults and you can check these out by subscribing to his YouTube channel

I have a few favourites of my own, one being Lake Of Inner Discovery 😴 SLEEP STORY FOR GROWNUPS 💤

Stay safe and stay sane in the second UK lockdown.

HM Government poster to protect the NHS during the Coronavirus pandemic

Has COVID-19 changed our Behaviour?

There is no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has altered our lives. Celebrating New Year 2020, who would have thought in the space of a few months there would be mass panic followed by three months of lockdown. But since the rules have relaxed how many can honestly say things are back to normal?

High Street Shopping

A series of conversations  got me thinking, in so much as I was forced to challenge my own behaviour. For example I have always felt uncomfortable about doing too much shopping online for fear of how it affects the High Street. Being strongly in favour of British retail stores and independent businesses, there is no question these establishments are being gobbled up by global giants such as Amazon. This drew my mind to a post I wrote in 2019 on how enjoyable traditional High Street shopping can be; a feast for the senses

Independent shop selling meringues and macaroons
Independent shop selling meringues and macaroons

Unfortunately the creeping consumerism associated with an abundance of online goods has grown worse and COVID-19 hasn’t helped. Even with shops gradually opening again, availability of some products has been scarce. I wanted to buy my husband a bird table for his birthday but after visiting numerous garden centres and pet shops there were none in stock. Reason? Restrictions on travel and freight resulted in a worldwide timber shortage.

With no choice but to search online, I found a nice bird table on Amazon. Begrudgingly bought it. Before I reached the checkout however, I was prompted to click a button for a free delivery option. Next thing I knew I was signed up for Amazon Prime.

How did that happen?

I don’t remember seeing any other choice for shipping… but too late. I had inadvertently signed up and the next time I saw my credit card statement I had been charged too! This naturally led me to purchasing  more products on Amazon to get my money’s worth in free postage. Sneaky or what? Isn’t this exactly what they want you to do?

All things considered, I don’t mind paying for shipping. Someone has to package up the goods and deliver them to my house by courier (sometimes next day), so why should that be free? It saves having get into my car, use petrol and pay for parking to get it myself.

But oh, how easily we are seduced by the convenience of it all.

The Global Giants

The more we talked, the more I began to shudder at the sheer power these companies have not to mention the control they exert over us and I’m talking about the big boys: Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. It seems no coincidence that the tech C.E.O.s of these companies faced a congressional hearing last Wednesday to argue that their companies do not stifle competition. I saw it on the news, curious to wonder how the four chief execs would defend their powerful businesses under the hammer of the US government.

It is estimated Jeff Bezos of Amazon makes $2,489 per second, more than twice what the median US worker makes in a week. This is the richest man in the world, 36% richer than our own monarchy, and despite making billions from UK alone consumers, pays not a penny in UK tax.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos looking rather smug

Mark Zuckerberg has annual earnings of roughly $15 billion but if it’s not enough he made a fortune out of Facebook, he quickly leapt in to buy Instagram, the next rising social media platform and has even joked about buying Google.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg looking defensive

According to the New York Times, members of the House judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee have investigated the internet giants for over a year on accusations that they have stifled rivals and harmed consumers.

But we’re letting it happen!

Smart Technology

The second, more sinister initiative I embraced recently was the Smart Shop app. Once again COVID-19 has rendered human contact risky, so the app is designed to reduce it. I won’t deny it saved me time. Scan your goods and pack them, scan your QR code at the end and bish bosh, shopping done.

I resisted this for weeks and everything would have been great; if only the store worker who persuaded me to try it hadn’t said that checkouts would be phased out soon. Not good news for the elderly who prefer being served at a checkout. Also not good news for the millions of workers who will lose their jobs. I felt the same when the privatised railway companies brought in automated ticket machines in train stations, and post offices had self-serve weighing machines for sending parcels. Technology is rising but at what cost? How long will it be before humans are redundant, replaced by machines and robots?

We can’t push back technology but a depiction of where this world could be going is brilliantly portrayed in dystopian thriller, HOPE by Terry Tyler, my favourite holiday read of last year; with job losses and spiralling homelessness, it outlines a terrifying vision of how Britain could end up if we let the giants take over:

HOPE is set in the UK. Year 2028 (8 years from now). “Multinational conglomerate Nutricorp is busy buying up supermarket chains, controlling the media, and financing the new compounds for the homeless: the Hope Villages.”

It’s glum but it could be real. If we let it.

My Pledge

My goal is therefore to support the High Street, and buy from independent stores and farm shops. With online shopping embedded in our culture, I may still use the internet – but will endeavour to support the smaller retailers.

It is estimated that if companies such as Amazon paid tax (even if it was only 10%) it would fund our NHS. But the sad fact of the matter is we are bowing to these all- consuming global parasites, which means people will lose jobs, go hungry and homelessness will keep rising, whilst the 1% wealthiest in the world get richer and richer and richer. Everyone has a choice and I am not trying to preach, but be careful how you shop and if you can, make responsible choices.

Coming Out of #UKLockdown

Tributes to the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic

What’s been happening with UK Lockdown?

24.6.2020 Well, it’s been 3 months but some of us were getting quite used to this new way of life. Piece by Piece however, the Government started lifting some of the restrictions and by the middle of May we were finally allowed out into the countryside.

Fortunately, this has been the hottest, sunniest May I remember for years, the flowers and tree blossom prolific: foxgloves in various shades, vivid red peonies and the plumes of mauve and white wisteria flowers on our cottage a feast for the eyes.

Crowds and Queues

Brighton Beach during Coronavirus outbreak
Source: Sky News 23.5.2020

With weather this glorious though and a first phase of getting our freedom back, it was inevitable people would be out in droves. Nothing suffered the deluge quite like the beaches. West Wittering had to restrict numbers of visitors to their car park (you had to book a week in advance) while pictures on the news showed other beaches packed to the gunnels with social distancing measures well and truly ignored.

Queuing to enter shops has become something of the norm now (but I am getting through many audio books in the process); at least there are no shortages any more. With a reasonable supply of flour now, my husband has been making lovely bread , while I continue to experiment with new recipes.

The Good Life

The weather has been so gorgeous, we have enjoyed our garden more than ever as have the rest of the family. At the beginning of May I got my hanging baskets planted, seeds in the greenhouse, resulting in a very bountiful vegetable patch. The rain has been scarce but in June, we finally got some rain. Now everything is growing like crazy, we have a very overcrowded vegetable patch, not to mention an abundance of strawberries and even a few cherries, while my Mum’s is like the Garden of Eden.

In fact every facet of nature seems amplified; clear skies with barely a cloud, the sea bluer, the flowers beautiful, the bird song clearer and the air sweeter. These were my observations for the rest of Lockdown and before the month ended, we had two more walks: Halnaker Windmill and Pagham Harbour, all within easy reach.

Halnaker Windmill in Sussex

Acceptance or Denial

As time marches on however, it seems the coronavirus is here to stay and the world might never go back to what it was. But there are two types of people; those anxious about COVID-19 (which is most of us) who accept the situation for what it is and do what we can to prevent the spread. We must protect the care workers and the vulnerable.

But some think the coronavirus is no worse than flu, social distancing laws are completely over the top and “how dare they take away our freedom!” I have even heard conspiracy theorists preaching this is some sinister plot; that governments engineered this entire scenario on purpose to enslave us indoors and control our lives.

I like to keep an open mind but I personally think it’s crap. How incredibly disrespectful to all the grieving families who’ve lost loved ones, not to mention the relentless, untiring efforts NHS workers but enough said… All most people want to do is survive.

Oriental Poppy in the garden

Moving On

So finally the shops have started opening again for non essential items such as clothes. I admit I do feel very sorry for workers who are suffering financial hardship, companies on the brink of going bust and the grim possibility jobs may be lost. No one wants that and yes, the economy has to start moving again. It was good to see NEXT in Bognor getting ready for opening. For the past 12 weeks it had a forlorn look, clothes on the rails but no customers, the store swamped in darkness and windows covered with bird poo. Getting read for the grand re-opening on June 15th, most stores now have footprint stickers on the floor (2m social distancing still in place) and hand sanitising stations.

And Finally

On June 23rd, Boris Johnson announced the next phase of relaxing the measures. To be honest I am a little surprised the pubs, restaurants and hotels are opening. Good news for youngsters who want to get out socialising again, relatives such as my husband’s brother and his family who run 2 wonderful restaurants, (The Boulevard and The Riviera in Sussex). But for gyms and beauty salons, the news is not so good and they are to remain closed, people like my sister (Cariad Beauty) who did the COVID-19 training, invested in all the PPE gear in readiness to return to work and is now told she can’t!

In other words you can go out boozing but you won’t be able to get back to a regular health and beauty regime? Does this Government have its priorities right?

It’s good to see the country shrug itself back to life and let’s hope the worst of this era has passed (fingers crossed). This will be my last post on the Coronavirus Pandemic for a while unless there is anything newsworthy. Now back to writing my new book, which is going quite well.

Tales from UK Lockdown: Week 10

Bognor Rocks at sunset

Adjusting to a Different World

26.5.2020 So we’ve been in lockdown for over 2 months but now the government have eased restrictions a little, I wonder if life can ever truly go back to how it was.

Despite the negative press, many of us are lucky to spend quality time with our loved ones and still manage financially, thanks to the Government furlough scheme. Though I am aware that for some, this is living a nightmare. My heart goes out to our care workers, many of whom work unbelievably long shifts, surrounded by death and heartache on a daily basis. For them, the Corona pandemic cannot pass quickly enough.

The other major problem is the work place. Understandably companies cannot wait to get the economy moving which is fair enough. Though some people just want everything to go back to how it was which will ultimately mean filling the sky with aeroplanes again. But my gut feeling tells me COVID-19 isn’t done with us yet. Lifting restrictions too fast could easily trigger a second deadly wave… that being the case we’re doomed!

We're Doomed!

Alternatively, just cherish these days while you have them (if you can)

Over these past weeks I have enjoyed seeing the breath-taking photos people share from their daily walks; of flowers bursting into bloom, tranquil coastal scenes and the most vibrant of sunsets. Others continue to inspire me with their achievements.

Extra time

With more spare hours on our hands, we finally re-decorated our office. The plaster and paintwork was in a terrible state, a daunting task we put off for too long. Now it’s done (and having cleared out loads of unwanted crap in the process) we feel more productive than ever in our cleaner tidier environment surrounded by fresh white walls.

Office repainted (Cottagewebs)

Country walks and keeping fit

Another month on and we’re finally allowed to drive into the countryside for walks. We missed the bluebells but enjoyed a picnic on the banks of East Ashling Pond, blessed to see a family of swans and signets gliding across the water. Halnaker Windmill yesterday was equally awe inspiring, the only sound the ring of birdsong, the air perfumed with the first lacy blooms of elderflowers. And talking of keeping fit, I’ve been doing kitchen aerobics with a set of hand-made weights (two water bottles filled with sand from the beach) and occasionally enjoy a zoom pilates class with Sussex Physiotherapy.

Swans and signets on East Ashling Pond, Sussex

Making the most of fresh seasonal produce

If ever there’s a time to support local farmers it’s now and my favourite place is Runcton Farm Shop. This is a great opportunity to look up new recipes depending on what’s available for example local asparagus (delicious either as a side vegetable or in recipes such as Risotto Primavera). I also heard there was a surplus of products, due to restaurants being closed. Imagine my surprise when my husband brought home a kg of fresh mussels home, which cost £1.60. For the first time ever I made Moules Marinière such a simple recipe but absolutely mouthwatering, served with home made bread.

Moules Mariniere

Best of all, I am back to writing with a renewed passion

I never imagined writing a standalone psychological thriller would be so hard but there were times last year I almost gave up.

It’s thanks to the people who helped me, I wanted to keep going; inspirational people such as Dan Jones who shared his experiences of working in children’s homes in the 90s and his friend, Graham, who was brought up in care. But with a police investigation at the heart of the story, more research needed to be done.

Research: talking to various senior police officers allowed me concentrate on the plot, a time I felt indebted to my good friend, Marion Kille, whose husband, Andy (formerly an ops controller with Sussex police for 30 years) was happy to answer a list of questions I had prepared. I also spoke to Peter’s cousin, Denise, whose husband worked in the CID but kindly pointed me in the direction of a recently retired Detective Inspector who for the last 10 years was senior investigator for similar cases to the one I am writing about. With a new focus, everything is finally beginning to slot into place.

Inspiration: Furthermore, I changed to writing in ‘first person’ for one of the characters. Last year I practised this as a writing tip – to write a scene in first person, depict their thoughts and feelings more powerfully – then change back to 3rd person. Sharing this on Twitter, #WhatWorksForMe I had a reply from Terry Tyler, one of my favourite authors, saying “Ever thought of just writing in the 1st person anyway?” It’s working very well and allowing me to get right inside this character’s head.

Re-writing this book is like untangling a ball of wool but finally I am unravelling the plot and teasing the story out of my characters. But more about that in a later post…

First Month of Lockdown

Trying to Stay Positive

21.4.2020 As Coronavirus spins its deadly web around the globe, I am sat here wondering how some people are handling the different world we live in.

Confined to our homes for a month now, I have tried to look on the bright side, but there are days when the situation feels eerie. Watching the news is heartbreaking when you consider the tragedy of losing loved ones. But for those of us who are surviving (fingers crossed), maybe we should think about how we can turn this situation to our advantage. I’ve seen lots of good vibes across the media, so I decided to use this post to share my own experiences.

Aubretia growing on a flint wall in Sussex

Seeing the world through new eyes

We’ve had a spate of sunny days, almost fated to draw us out, when we know we should stay indoors. But even on a solitary walk, there is time to observe your natural surroundings. On occasions I see something I never taken much notice of before. It could be the trees coming into leaf, the incredible diverse range of colours found in the beach pebbles, cloud formations or the movement of birds in the sky. I’ve been wowed by some of the photos I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter too, which just shows we have the same basal instincts when it comes to appreciating what is under our noses. Maybe this is a good sign. That we have taken our planet for granted for too long.

Sun shining through the trees in west park

Adjusting shopping habits

The panic buying and stockpiling I described in my last post will be forever embossed on my brain. What a nightmare, queuing at 7am to get loo rolls. But with social distancing laws resolutely in place now, I try to restrict this to once a week which is not a bad thing (I used to shop too often). Nowadays I am inspired to plan ahead, check cupboards for ingredients, keep the freezer well stocked and only go out when I need stuff. At least the shelves are better stocked. Given the potential of the virus spreading though, the thought of being in a supermarket fills me with dread. I don’t mind queuing 2m apart and one tip I’d like to share is to have an audiobook on your phone. Shuffling slowly forwards, it not only kills time but I’m getting through more good books than ever before.

Protecting yourself

Fingers crossed I have thus far avoided anything nasty, by sanitising my hands as soon as I leave the store before touching keys or door handles. Same when I’m home, then rubbing all plastic and glass containers with anti-bacterial wipes before putting them away (my sister’s tip but I think lots of people do this now). COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours! I have also taken to wearing a mask now. My next door neighbour started her own embroidery business but with an excess of fabrics, makes very nice masks for just £6 each. Check her designs out on Instagram.

Cooking

I am loving seeing people’s culinary masterpieces on social media. Isn’t it great to go back to baking your own bread, while others get creative with lush cakes and cookies? I don’t think we’ve had a single ready meal since lockdown and I am enjoying looking up new recipes (see my Pinterest board) and spending more time in the kitchen. I never had the time before and it feels like a luxury. In fact my freezer is getting so chock-a-block full of home-cooked meals I might end up  shopping even less soon!

Time for Communication and Contemplation

We have time. So much time. Time to connect with people we haven’t contacted for months, write letters, phone each other up, Facetime, cherish the joy of communication like never before. Peter and I miss our walking group terribly but use our weekends to sort the garden out, plant seeds and we even started painting our office, something we procrastinated about for too long. But while it’s nice to keep busy, I find time to relax. Last week I enjoyed a zoom Yoga class, thanks to my friend Angela. But in moments of anxiety try creative visualisation. Another good friend, Penny Burns, has expansive knowledge in this field and I have been helping her with her blog, as well as promoting her videos on YouTube. These combine deep breathing with meditation techniques, designed to reduce stress and improve well-being.

Sun on the sea used in a creative visualisation video

Reliving good memories

Getting things organised has been high on my list of priorities and looking at my i-pad, I was staggered by how many photos were on it. No wonder the storage is almost full! So I have been looking through them and deleting some, leaving only the best. It’s actually turned into another therapeutic exercise. My tablet was a joint 50th birthday present from Peter and family, and since 2014, I have taken hundreds of pics, some almost identical, others not worth saving. It’s been fun revisiting those years, from family celebrations to trips out and holidays. A living memoir of life’s highlights, reminding me how much I have to be thankful for. I recommend this as a good antidote on days when you’re feeling blue.

So what are others up to during lockdown?

I get lots of inspiration from hearing what others have been up to – from taking up a new hobby to posting lovely photos and videos, bringing some cheer to our troubled lives. Dan Jones has inspired me by posting his wellbeing walks on YouTube for others to enjoy. I even attempted a movie of my own, a recording on the beach where the sound of the waves lapping on the shore was quite soothing.

https://www.facebook.com/helen.christmas.7/videos/2940573542646414/

At the same time, I’ve been blown away by stories in the media.

Praise to 90-year-old Margaret Payne, climbing a mountain on her stairs to help raise money for the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. She aims to scale the equivalent of a Scottish Highland mountain with 282 trips up the stairs in her home.

And who could miss the accomplishments of Captain Tom Moore? Tom’s 100th Birthday Walk is a lion-hearted gesture to raise funds for the NHS, a man who served as an officer in World War II and whose selfless acts of bravery make him a hero.

So that’s my list done. Don’t know how long we’ll be in Lockdown but it could be months yet so keep the ideas flowing… I’ll be posting again soon.

From Life Changing Fears to Simple Pleasures

Hyacynths at West Dean Gardens

28.03.2020: Today feels strange. Was it a week ago Mum and I were enjoying a walk around West Dean Gardens? With fear of the coronavirus spreading, they shut the shop and café but kept the gardens open for visitors to enjoy free. Thinking it was the last chance we might get out for a while, we made the most of it. I wasn’t wrong. A week later the UK went into lockdown. 

14.03.2020: Two weeks ago, the face of Britain was changing rapidly. Panic spread fast, people went out in droves to stock up on essentials but it led to an explosion in panic buying. Mum loves shopping and at 85 years of age, it is one of the highlights of her week. So picture us in M&S Food hall, my sister and I pinging texts back and forth, to check what’s available. We were able to get her a chicken and some hand wash but despite trying 5 different food stores, she could not get her hands on pasta or paracetamol and not a single toilet roll to be found anywhere!

Panic Buying and Stockpiling Week

16.03.2020: No one needs to be told how bad it was but my God! Anyone on Facebook must have seen the images of empty shelves; videos of grabbing arms like some big greedy octopus had descended; photos of smirking hoarders, multi-packs of loo rolls piled high in their trolleys. I was ashamed to be a member of the human race, imagining the poor souls who ended up with nothing. These would have included old age pensions, working families and NHS employees. Did these hoarders have no shame? Apparently not.

18.03.2020: Thus as word spread, people drove to Sainsbury’s earlier to beat the rush (and yes, even I was driven to desperation). But you should have seen the queues. They stretched all the way around the car park. Like many in the same boat, I was banking on getting just one or two essential items, having never imagined that by the time I inched my way into the store, there still wouldn’t be any sodding loo paper! But within 15 minutes of the store being open, the shelves fully stocked, they had already been stripped bare.

Toilet Roll Jokes

19.03.2020: You’d think it was a joke right? And yes, we had to laugh. Even my 91-year-old mother in law donated their local newspaper with the parting words, “I thought Peter might like to read it unless you need it for toilet paper.” Looking back though, I never imagined that fraught weekend prior to all this, would be the last time I would be taking Mum out food shopping for the unforeseeable future. It was beginning to feel surreal like something out of War of the Worlds.

Next Came Lockdown

23.03.2020: Day by day we were adapting to more change, measures that would ultimately be essential if we were to prevent the spread of the invisible enemy COVID-19. Only now  do I appreciate how lucky we were to enjoy our West Dean Gardens trip. It was Mother’s Day that weekend too. My brother in law and his family run two restaurants, Mothering Sunday one of their busiest days. But both had to close, as did all diners and pubs. We couldn’t take our mothers out either as vulnerable people were advised to stay indoors. I visited my mum very briefly to give her a box of chocolates and a magazine but we weren’t allowed to hug. I cannot describe the emotional wrench I felt at the time.

The open parkland at West Dean Gardens
The open parkland at West Dean Gardens

25.03.2020: Since the Prime Minister’s speech everyone must be feeling the pinch now. With the whole country suspended, work has ceased, the knock-on effect on businesses is yet to be realised and this is only week 1. My sister, a beauty therapist, has seen a dramatic drop off in bookings but like many in this business, is temporarily closed now. As web designers, maybe we have a slim chance of surviving but even our work is dwindling.

I didn’t want this post to be depressing just something I can look back on, if and when the world recovers. In some strange way though, I cannot help but wonder if this virus is Mother Nature’s way of fighting back. It has after all, confined people indoors, stopped us flying, reduced traffic, reduced CO2 emissions and forced us to appreciate the more simple pleasures in life. Our deepest fear is the threat of losing loved ones, but maybe a time to express how much we love them and will do anything to keep them safe.

Image of the Mulberry on Aldwick beach
An evening walk along our local beach.

In my next post, I’ll think of something cheerful to write, maybe a long list of what we’ve being doing with all this extra time on our hands…