My name is Gill and I work part-time as a University Lecturer. Before lockdown I would drive over to Worcester up to three times a week, battling through the traffic, crossing the city and river. One day a week I would work from home or visit some local schools to watch our students teach and then Fridays were left for shopping with my father and housework. This allowed for weekends to be used for gardening, dinner parties with friends and family and on Sunday attending church. In the summer, some weekends would involve taking our touring caravan to small camp sites to explore the local towns and villages, either on foot or by bike.
Since lockdown things have changed quite a lot! I can sort my time now into three categories. There are workdays, shopping days and gardening days and most of these do not involve leaving the house. Workdays are spent in my office at home working on the computer. I have learned how to record voice-overs for PowerPoints and how to set up video calls. All teaching has moved on-line and I’m still learning about the best way to approach this, as are my colleagues. One-to-one tutorials and interviewing prospective students on-line seem to be as effective as physically meeting so I suspect these will continue when we get back to normal whenever that is.
Usually every weekday between 5 and 6pm my other half and I go for a walk around the village for our daily exercise. We have discovered lots of footpaths we never knew existed and fortunately the weather has been sunny and reasonably warm. Staring at a screen all day means we need some fresh air, and this has replaced my commute – a much better exchange, I think!
Shopping has now become (almost) a whole day affair. I now shop for my father, rather than with him, and our weekly lists usually involve visiting 2 shops and sometimes 3. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but when you have to queue outside in the car park, try to ensure you maintain the 2m distance inside (which often means you have to wait for somebody to move before you can access the shelves), and then join the socially distanced queue for the checkout, the morning can easily disappear. Back in Badsey, I collect a cooked meal from the wonderful Freedom Club and then drive over to Broadway to deliver everything. At the complex, I don protective gear so that I can pass through the communal area safely. Masks are most unpleasant to wear as I find they steam up my glasses!
When my other half and I realised that non-essential trips were off the agenda, we decided we would have to keep ourselves busy with some gardening projects. We would normally be away with the caravan at Easter and on a London city break for the first May bank holiday weekend. Sadly, both have had to be postponed. These weekends were spent instead redesigning part of our front garden – a job we had been planning on doing for a few years but had never quite finalised the design or had the time to carry it out. Thank goodness gardening items (including a skip) could still be arranged on-line and delivered. This project has now been completed and as another bank holiday weekend approaches, a project in the back garden is occupying our time – the installation of a tomato house i.e. a scaled down greenhouse. This was another item on the to-do list. We hope that once this is complete, lockdown will be eased, and our touring caravan will be put to good use.
Our church services have gone on-line as have various church meetings. Four evenings a week are spent on Zoom or Skype, either meeting people from church or speaking to friends and family. On Thursday evening I speak to my friend in the USA then spend 5 minutes at 8pm clapping for the NHS and waving to our neighbours. On Sunday evenings we tune into an on-line performance from Jonathan Veira, an opera singer and raconteur. He certainly lifts our spirits and sets us up to face the week in a good mood.
And now for another week in lockdown. I am on annual leave this coming week and spring-cleaning beckons…...