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Covid19 - A Rural Diary - Days 1-7

With the official announcement of Lockdown came some relief. We were no longer in limbo. We had parameters. As a crawling baby is happier within the confines of a playpen where boundaries are understood rather than washing around in a big scary room, so it felt less stressful to be told we could no longer bob in and out of town stocking up, doing stuff you might not be able to do soon etc etc. We were strongly advised to go out just once a week for essential shopping, and an hour a day for exercise. That was it. Very simple. Clear rules and regulations. No more moral dilemmas.

And so we entered into our routines. N's life didn't change - just got more busy. Chained to his desk as complicated financial situations unfolded with clients. G threw herself into fitness and food. E focused on her 3rd year dissertation, the culmination of her university studies. L still had to endure online teaching of sorts, though with the heart ripped out of it as a Year 13 whose 'A' level…

Covid19 Lockdown - A Rural Diary - Day 1

I am turning back the clock to the beginning of Lockdown. 

Monday 23rd March, 2020

The afternoon before the Government's lockdown announcement later that same evening, I was in the supermarket, primarily to get and send supplies of a crucial item of a personal nature for my 87 year old mother in law who is housebound hundreds of miles away down south. How things had changed since I was there two days before. At the weekend it seemed like business as usual apart from the inevitable empty shelves where loo paper, tinned tomatoes, flour and pasta used to reign. Ridiculous amounts of all the same bunch of flowers for mother's day. I don't think you'd feel very special with that one!! I noted there were fields of broccoli, too, but no other veg.

Waiting patiently at the fish counter, an employee finally rushed over, apologising: she had been helping unload a huge delivery which had just arrived. While I was there, the whole veg and meat sections became full to overflowing wi…

Covid19 Lockdown - A Rural Diary - Day 11

Friday 3rd April

I have just come back in from a beautiful evening walk, much-needed after a day at the computer and technological headaches.

I set out with a fuzzy head, brain-addled and crabby of mood. For the first 20 minutes I just downloaded my frustrations to G as we walked along the track above our house, heading west into the sun which had been popping in and out of clouds all day. There was stillness all around, the sound of birdsong, a soft evening light brushing the hills with gold, and shadows across the valley. Not a soul in sight, no sounds of cars rushing along the main road below, the breathless reservoir a mirror for the surrounding hills. Slowly the birdsong impinged on my frazzled brain and I started to properly absorb the beauty around me.

We took a left off the track into a valley which I had never seen even after 17 years of life here. A sheep lay bloated and dead by the wall, stark reminder - as if we needed it right now - that nature is not always kind. Picking…

Covid19 Write Now

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I am painfully aware that when your Government declares a nationwide 'lockdown' this can have very different implications for each and every one of us. Whether you live in a city or in the country, in a house or in an apartment, whether you have outside space or just windows, whether you are in a basement or a top floor flat, whether you are in a cottage or a palace, whether you live alone or with family, whether you are young or elderly, whether you are healthy or vulnerable, and myriad other differences - we are certainly not 'all in the same boat'. Well, we sort of are, but we aren't are we? Not really....
I am also painfully aware that I am one of the luckier ones: I am not a key worker or an NHS frontline worker; I am not technically vulnerable (though starting to get a tad long in the tooth perhaps...); I have my three daughters back home with me; my husband is able to work from home; we have a good size house and garden and are surrounded by fields and hills …

Covid-19 - Some Thoughts and Reflections

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On New Year’s Eve 2019, my husband and I were lucky enough to be spending a few days’ skiing in the French Alps with another couple. We mutually enjoy escaping the UK for New Year and swopped stories that night about some particularly testing times we had both had to live through in recent years. We noted how everyone goes into New Year wishing each other ‘the best one yet’ or ‘let’s hope it’s better than last year!’. It all seems rather pointless because the salutations are well-intended but ultimately meaningless: ‘best’ and ‘better’ are both relative terms and let’s face it, every year has its fair share of good and bad - sometimes it all goes swimmingly till just before the end (just as you were getting smug) then comes and slaps you in the face with a great big 'thwack'; and sometimes it goes tits up before it’s barely started. However, spurred on by good food, good wine, blue skies and abundant snow we started our New Year in a positive spirit, repeating the mantra: ‘It’…

Yoga

This morning I got up determined to go to the yoga class I haven't been to for weeks. There are various reasons for this: January was wild and wet and not conducive to venturing out; instead I spent it trying to catch up after the chaos of December and Christmas as well as preparing for a two week interlude away from home supporting my mother through a big operation; in February I only had two weeks at home and wasn't in the 'yoga' mood for either of them - head, heart and mind elsewhere; March seemed clear and I was looking forward to getting back into my routines but having been skiing in northern Italy at half term I decided that it was socially responsible to avoid groups of people, just in case.

So today I was determined that I would get back in the groove and get to that yoga class come hell or high water. There was no hell and no high water, but I still didn't get there. I tried, mind. I got myself in the mood by doing some self-reike but that left me a lit…

Remembering Flt Lt Bill Astell DFC - and my father

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Tuesday 19th November 2019



In the week following Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, I dug out a very special book that was sent to me last year. It is called Casualty of War - Letters home from Flight Lieutenant Bill Astell, DFC. It was conceived, written and compiled by Chris Ward who is a Bomber Command historian and author and has written more than anyone about the wartime history of 617 Squadron, aka The Dambusters.

On May 17th, 2013, I wrote a piece on this blog entitled 617 'Dambuster' Squadron 70th Anniversary  In this I talked about the privilege of living in Bill Astell's former home and I feel no different today. The joy of the book I was sent is that I can now place a living, breathing personality into this space that we have both called home.

Chris's book is founded on his research and knowledge as a war historian but, more importantly, from his friendship with Bill's youngest sister, Heather, who was 14 years his junior. Heather was able to provide …