I didn’t believe that when I said goodbye to the family on the 12 March after my son’s birthday get together, it would be the last time we would be able to hug each other for the foreseeable future. I remember that we all made a joke of touching elbows not realising this was going to be normal life soon. My husband, who is a virologist, warned us that he could see the pandemic spreading rapidly but I doubt if even he could have foreseen how bad it would be.
Things evolved quickly and we went into lockdown around the 19th March. Toilet rolls became like gold dust. Trollies were piled up with luxury quilt toilet rolls, soft on the bottom but a pain in the butt for those who couldn’t get their hands on them. As a member of the vulnerable, over 65 ‘s, community we cocooned ourselves. We didn’t go the shops. Our children brought groceries and left them on the step. Every item was carefully washed down with soap and water and a dettol infusion to kill the virus should it be lurking on any surface.
At the time I was writing for VIEWdigital and so I was able to do that from home using FaceTime to communicate. Gordon was already working from home so that didn’t change.
We started walking every day. At first round the block and then driving to beaches and parks further afield. I started photographing every thing that moved and every day putting them on Twitter. I’m so grateful to all those who liked them and commented on them. It made it so worth while. I also put them on Facebook with an account of how we had spent the day. I then got the timelines printed in a book so future generations can see what it was like to live through a pandemic.
So apart from not going to the shops our daily lives remained much the same as usual, though as one who has never ordered groceries online, I found having to write a list of what I needed very annoying.
We were extremely lucky with the weather during March, April and May so no long days stuck in the house. And here I realise how lucky we were. We had a garden, lovely places nearby to visit. I felt so sorry on the days we did get rain, for parents locked down without a garden, young children with lots of energy champing at the bit to unleash all that pent up energy. It was much the same with Gordon when the golf club closed.
As the number of cases came down restrictions were relaxed and Summer arrived. It seems a long way off now.
Then there was a debate about GCSE’s. Exams were cancelled as schools had been closed. A worrying time for teenagers already confined to spending time at home. It was decided to award marks on performance and even this caused controversy depriving some from pursuing their chosen career path at University.
I remember around June answering a tweet from a Twitter friend saying that my husband anticipated a second wave in the Autumn and I just hoped that plans were being put in place to deal with this second wave. Unfortunately it became apparent that this wasn’t the case and decisions on what to do as the numbers rise again is being made ‘on the hoof’.
How has the year affected me personally?
Well I’ve missed hugs from my children and grandchildren. I also have come to realise that there are some people that if I never saw them again it wouldn’t worry me and others who I’m missing a lot.
During our many walks by the sea over the past 10 months I’ve collected lots of sea glass. Looking it up on the net I found it was possible to make pictures with the glass so I had a go at it and found out I enjoyed it. I was able to sell them before Christmas and raise money for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. We also saw lots of places along the east coast that we hadn’t visited before. Northern Ireland has some beautiful places so get out there and see them.
My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones due to contacting Covid. Two close relatives had positive results back in September but thankfully with few symptoms and a rapid recovery. I also feel for those elderly people who were unable to spend Christmas with their family and for whom this could well be their last Christmas.
I don’t understand those who try to gain attention by dismissing the virus as ‘just flu’ and refuse to obey regulations put in place to stop the spread.
I’m disgusted by our MLA’s who can’t put issues aside and work together for the good of all. Covid 19 doesn’t distinguish between orange and green.
Now we have a vaccine and although the virus is very crafty and is mutating to find new hosts we are hopeful that when we have vaccinated over 85% we will begin to return to our new normal.
So as we move into a new year and personally I just see it as a continuation of the past 366 days don’t expect life to suddenly change for the better or for that matter for the worse.
However I wish you all a Peaceful and Healthy 2021. Thank you for following me on Twitter, Facebook, Chatter and YouTube and for the craic we have had in this unprecedented year. The year of Covid.