Freedom

“The ocean was one of the greatest things he had ever seen in his life—bigger and deeper than anything he had imagined. It changed its color and shape and expression according to time and place and weather”

Haruki Murakami

On 10th July 2020, I sought, and I found freedom by the sea!

In fact, I fount it living next a small flat, in a simple English coastal village.

My freedom is glorious, wondrous, magnificent and inspiring.

The daily news deterred me from booking a holiday, but the draw of the sea became all consuming. I thought that I might just go berserk if I stayed cooped up in my London home for much longer. A bit of googling and my husband found a property with availability.

“The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure.”
Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

As we are preparing to leave London, we ask each other countless questions such as: Is it too early to leave the confines of our home? Will there be crowds of people? Did the people who rented the flat last week have Covid? Will my cleaning remove any trace of the virus from the sink, door handles, bedside tables, crockery and cutlery? Have I forgotten anything that will mean I have to go to the shops and engage with people who may have the virus? Will we be able to park outside the flat to unload the car? Will people look strangely at me wearing my mask around the place?

The answer to the last question is, yes, people look strangely at me and my husband wearing our masks.  We only wear them in shops or when passing large groups. One man told his family not to cough as I walked past, they all fell about laughing, a bit like the robots in a very old Smash advert! Others whisper to each other and point at us. Its not like my part of London, where people are often seen wearing masks. It feels disagreeable and I feel conspicuous.

In the Cooperative store, a young woman who attends the till, gives me good advise about how to stop my sunglasses steaming when wearing a mask, Apparently you need to put soap on the edge of the mask, just where it touches the glasses. It does actually stop the steaming! She, at least, was grateful that I wore a mask when she was serving me.  That one conversation and her kindness at my obvious embarrassment, made all of the other sneers and whispers insignificant.

There is nothing exciting about this village; a pub that spills over into the road with people holding plastic pints.  A Tesco store which is in chaos, not sure how to handle social distancing,. An array of bric a brac, charity, and cake shops, but I have no interest in visiting any of them.

The place we are renting is not luxurious. The flat is basic, clean and minimalist. Its minimal in a way that means the owners did, just enough, to make it habitable for a week or so. But, and its a big but! This flat has a dual aspect Seaview!

“My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So, I found freedom in being able to watch the ebb and the flow of the waves, the sunrise and the sunset, the tide coming in and then going out.

My freedom comes from experiencing the energy of the sea, inhaling the ozone, and falling asleep to the sound of the waves lapping or crashing against a pebbled beach.

 

Covid 19 – Day 112

Over 100 days ago I had my last ‘normal’ day: I saw a client, went to the hairdressers, did a bit of random shopping and joined friends for dinner at a local Indian restaurant. Washing hands on arrival and even part way through the meal, elbow bumping our friends and the restaurant owner. The day was ‘normal’ but even in early March we both felt a little uncomfortable with the proximity of so many others. We had a great meal, lots of fun and frivolity and it was a memorable and super evening.

The next day we celebrated my husbands birthday, at home!  We haven’t really left home much since then. I started a video log that day and have recorded six or seven videos to remind myself of the journey we have taken these past few weeks.

I wanted to do something to help others but was scared to offer to work at a supermarket or volunteer in a hospital. Quite quickly I volunteered for the NHS responder service, I have been on duty most of the time but have never been called. I offered free coaching to friends on Facebook to help people who may be worried about their careers. I had a few requests and I have loved the contact and working with those people.

I worked from home for a couple of clients for about a month and then things stopped. It started up again a few weeks ago and I hope it will build from here. It seems that the life of a freelancer is going to be a bit bumpy over the next year or so.

When the full lockdown was called I found I had to divert my energies to other tasks like cleaning. In the early weeks I also did a lot of clearing, but the clearing soon became problematic because I didn’t have anywhere to store things. The dump and charity shops all being closed meant that my garage got full quickly.   I soon stopped sorting and started rearranging things.

Workshops started to appear online and I signed up for a few of them. Not all of them worked for me but I was grateful for the people putting in the effort to deliver content. I now have a few things I do regularly. I find that I benefit from this new way of connecting and learning.

Sewing is a passion and I continued to work on some of the projects I started at college. Different to the quilts I usually make with commercial fabric these projects are made with home dyed fabric. Sheets that would have been dumped got a new lease of life. I learnt to use scraps, no use to anyone, to weave new pieces of fabric and I am really pleased with the results. A fellow student started a coronavirus quilt project and I was eventually able to contribute a piece to his work. Sewing and knitting, as I say some of my passions, have been a bit of a struggle in lockdown. I realise that both sewing and knitting are good community activities and isolation makes it harder to focus.

A couple of weeks into lockdown I was invited to join a local bookclub which would meet every two weeks to discuss selected books. Its organised, on Zoom and everyone who participates is passionately interested in discussing books. Some of the books have been daunting like The Heart’s Invisible Furies, controversial like American Dirt, or fun and inspiring like Sweet Sorrows by David Nicholls who joined our group for the last half hour to take questions. He was a joy and it was so inspiring to hear him talk openly about his writing practice.   Our local book group continues online and that is a lot of fun with a mix of books including the magical The Binding. The local group is also about friendship and support and has been invaluable.

My garden has always been a place of refuge and never more needed than in the lockdown. I can’t decide if the hot weather in London is a blessing or not but it does mean that I am noticing things more. For example, this morning I saw the sun rising at 04.45 and last night I was able to sit in the garden until very late with the sun setting at about 21.20.

Its hard to believe we have now passed midyear and that the days will start to draw in. I wonder what the next stage of the Pandemic will bring for me and John. My heart goes out to everyone who is shielding and to those people who live on their own. This has been hard for the grandparents stuck at home alone who can’t see their children and their grandchildren

I don’t have any big revelations or advice to give anyone. I am truly grateful for friends and family who contact me or respond to me, you make my life joyful. I am writing this post to acknowledge my over 100 day milestone.

Renny is to blame!

 

blue and yellowPleased with the relationship between the blue and yellow papers, I take a coffee break. Downstairs, in the hall, I watch Renny stretch out his arms and close his hands, it is a long yawn. I ask if he’s been outside. He doesn’t answer. I turn toward the kitchen door.

He is struggling, like the rest of us, to meet the conflicting demands of lockdown, exercise, work but I am beginning to tire of Renny’s moods. He broke the rules and I am exhausted after days of fever and coughing. I return to the attic, reveling in my first bookbinding.

100 Words

This is my first attempt at a Drabble!

It was written using six phrases from a random selection of books which I will post later.

Pendippy

We know what’s coming and we’re not going to wait around for the PM’s announcement on Monday.  The car is jammed with food, wine and treats for Alex. For me, its the normal detritus of a crafting life; needles, every kind of needle, wool, fabric, thread and my trusty Husqy.

Alex was furloughed this morning, its a term I’ve never heard used in relation to people, and it means that he will be paid to not work for the next twelve weeks. It took us all of 20 minutes to agree that this gives us permission to leave the City and travel to Pendippy. Its a large whitewashed house with a distinctive red roof and its been my family home for over 40 years. There is electricity, running water and an Aga which keeps the old place pretty warm even on the coldest days. No one lives there now, so me and Alex visit every summer for a couple of weeks to check it out and ensure it is maintained.

Over the past few days, as supermarket counters emptied, Alex worked out exactly how much food was needed for the next 12 weeks and through Amazon Prime stocked up on bags of protein shake, coffee, porridge and UHT milk.  In his last Sainsbury’s dash, he managed to grab the remaining few bags of pasta and a bundle of cans of tomatoes. At Pendippy the freezer is full of the best local Salmon and other goodies left from our last visit and we can forage for fruit and veg in the gardens. We intend to live in isolation, without leaving the grounds, until the worst is over. We have no phone signal or wifi but we have a library full of books, and, we have each other.

Excited, we jump in the car for the long drive north. As we approach Pendippy the air seems cooler, the sun is fading and it looks like rain might follow.  I open the car door and I hear the crash of waves on rocks. The seagulls are soaring and swooping above us, no doubt out for their evening meal. 

The extensive pine forest behind the house has, before today, always given me the creeps. It makes the back of the house dark and gloomy but today it gives us privacy from the town, so no one will know we are here. There are some locals who don’t want City folk  descending on their village but we have as much right to be here.

Anyway, we’ve decided that we have no intention of leaving!

pendippy

 

Lockdown

I wonder if, when and how we will come out of this lockdown.

I have learnt so much about the people around me and about myself.

Sadness grips my heart, I feel deep distress and I wonder if it will ever lift.

I am thankful for some amazing people who keep me going.

Some days, I wonder how I will climb out from under my deep sense of despair!

So I distract myself, I write, I create and when I can, I work.

 

 

Day 12

I remember the three-day week and the resultant power cuts, which ran from 1st January to 7th March 1974. I was about 15 and I thought my world had ended. No light to read by, no tv and it was dark and cold. I remember wondering how my world had become so small.

Fast forward 46 years. I am on lockdown at home with my husband. We went into lockdown 4 days before the PM asked people to stay at home. The reasons don’t really matter.

Its different in so many ways, we have heat, light, entertainment, and we have space. We are learning a new way of living and luckily we like each other! I can’t imagine what it would be like to be locked into a home with a partner I disliked. Its fair to say that even though we love each other and understand one another well, we still, occasionally, piss each other off!

We are both busy working, but from home. Both learning how to use an array of video conferencing tools such as Teams, Zoom, FaceTime. We never really got into using these before now. We never had the time!

I worry for the youngsters and for the very old. People of my generation and just a bit younger probably needed to slow down a little. The youngsters will remember this for the rest of their lives and it is my hope that they will have positive memories. Hopefully memories of intimate conversations with parents, fun activities, creativity and freedom like they have never known before. I fear for the children for whom School was an escape from abuse, hunger and boredom. I fear for older people who will be missing time with their grandchildren, people who may be spending the last portion of their lives alone, possilby in a state of anxiety.

I am doing a video log to track my own moods and reflections on this part of my life. Its not for publication but I hope it will see me grow and change in a positive way.

Theatre is my passion and I was lucky enough to go to lots of productions in January and early February. The last one was La Boheme at the Royal Opera House and there were many spare seats. At the time, I wondered if it was because of the flight restrictions from China – totally random thought –  it was probably more to do with it being a midweek matinee. I had loads of stuff booked for March, April and May but now these will cancel. I am however, surprised and delighted that various companies are sharing content online for free. Royal Court, National Theatre and the Royal Opera House. All I had in 1974 was a dark, cold bedroom where going to sleep was the only option.

As we are in total lockdown we are not shopping and we have been let down by Ocado, twice. Today we were expecting our first delivery of fresh chicken but they removed it from the contents without offering an alternative. I will never use Ocado again after this crisis is over. Their customer support is appalling and after one tweet and several emails to try to rebook my first cancelled order I had comms from 13 people, not one of whom followed the situation through. Today would have been a kick in the teeth if I hadn’t found alternatives. So something I am learning is that you must not procrastinate, if you have an idea follow it through and act immediately. I have now ordered from my local butcher; having lost all his restaurant work he is happy to do local small deliveries. Its expensive but its fresh and will last me for a week or so.

Creativity is helping me, sewing is a passion and I do it most days. I am finishing projects and starting new ones. At this rate I may get through my stash before the Lockdown finishes.  Today I will do my first Zoom watercolour course and I am really excited about it. I hope that it will be the first of many. My book group will meet tomorrow evening at 8pm to discuss The Presidents Hat – one of my favourite books. Its a great group and we will all struggle with the tech but we will all support each other.

I am lucky.

It is now day 45 and nothing much has changed!

Creativity

I’m not creative.

I have never been creative.

I like to make things.

I follow patterns or steal ideas wherever I can, but, I am not creative.

Oh, I make things. I make things that I like and some things I don’t like very much at all, but I  still make them. 

Have I ever had a creative thought? I don’t think so!  Not one bloody creative aha moment in 61 years.

Nearly all of my adult life has been spent working, I never had an urge to bake a cake, make an item of clothing, paint a picture – well –  just fucking nothing! I never baked. I never wondered about sewing, it never crossed my mind to knit something and as for making a model or a painting…. –

Not once in nearly 40 years did it cross my mind to divert my time from working to waste my time creating!

And that’s the thing, I see creating as wasting time.

Still Nothing!

Its been over a month since my last post and I have nothing that I want to write about!

I have emotions, experiences, and thoughts. Some of them are too raw to share with others so I have nothing to write about!

Today I saw a post on Facebook, I think it came from some editorial in the Telegraph, but didn’t bother to follow the trail. It suggested that all the blogs and banter about being motivated in Lockdown gets on people’s nerves. The good news, is that I can’t offer motivational tips. Not one thing!

My experience of the lockdown? Well, there are good days and there are bad days. The good days significantly outweigh the bad days, I am lucky!

What makes a good day? Well, that’s easy, its a kind word from my husband or a message from a friend, colleague or a family member. Its having fresh fruit and vegetables to eat. It is being able to take a warm bath or to have a hot shower. It is going outside, even for a few minutes to spend time in my garden. Its having books to read and films to watch. Its having the internet and people to talk to on Zoom, FaceTime or Skype. I know, I am lucky!

I have nothing inspiring to write about at the moment, but I am trying, I am doing writing exercises,  participating in online courses, thinking and working through some of my notes from earlier classes. But I still come up with nothing!

I will keep trying, after all I am just a work in progress myself.

Much love to any readers.