The working week
Week 2 didn’t start well. I went to do my washing up and found the sink was full of dirty water which hadn’t drained from the night before. Even prodding around with a brush and a knife didn’t help… I undid some of the pipes, dirty water splashing into and around the bowl I put under the connections, and trying to work out where the blockage was. I went down to the hardware store (still open) and got some nasty chemicals – a big bottle of Mr Muscle – and stuck half down the plughole and half down the plughole in the shower upstairs, which had also been running slow.
That didn’t work in the kitchen sink and despite the fact that I was also trying to work, I spent my lunch hour sending desperate messages and receiving helpful hints via various whatsapp groups about what I could do. In the end I gave up, leaving a pool of disgusting water in the sink, and decided I’d go away and leave it until the end of the working day. I guess it’s a bit like turning the computer off and walking away from it, when that’s not behaving.
Sure enough when I went back after work the sink had, miraculously, cleared. I was a bit doubtful about whether this was a lasting ‘fix’ but I’m pleased to say that two days later it’s still running free. I should also add that I am EXTREMELY careful not to put loads of nasty stuff down the sink nor into the dishwasher – years ago when I worked at Railtrack we had a catering business tenant who didn’t have grease traps in his drains. He almost undermined a whole railway embankment at Finchley Road, and next door’s toilet was backing up due to his blocked drains. Yuck. That was the first time I served a s.146 notice on a tenant.
I’ve been doing my morning yoga regularly and really enjoying it. About 20 minutes is the perfect amount for me, and it sets me up ready to work. On Tuesday I missed going for a run as I didn’t have time – although my singing lesson also got cancelled as my teacher’s boiler had split (it was obviously one of Those Days). And the CPD webinar I joined was booooorrrringggg…
That’s the great thing at the moment though – there is loads of free stuff online, far more than usual. On Wednesday I joined a webinar about co-working. Nothing terribly mind-blowing but a good webinar (and an hour’s CPD), and it made me wonder again what will happen when this is all over. I actually think this is the final death-knell to our high streets as people will have got used to shopping online and to home deliveries: unless everybody goes mad when we’re finally released and hits the high street with all the cash they’ve saved from not going out (?). Have you? Are you saving much money being at home? I am, but the temptation is to go mad online.
The frenzy of whatsapp seems to have died down – I wonder if, one week in, people are becoming a little more relaxed about keeping in touch with people. I’m trying to phone them rather than just whatsapp or email, but I have to admit that so far I’m quite relishing not having the commute to work (I maybe said that last week as well). Today, for example, I did yoga before work, started about 8.30a.m., went for a run at lunchtime, and then worked until about 7p.m. when the National Theatre’s free streaming began.
I think this is such a great idea, and they showed a slightly slapstick comedy which in some ways was a little trite, but I think was exactly what was needed at the moment. I really enjoyed it and am going to try to ‘go to the theatre’ every week. A lot of it would be stuff I wouldn’t dream of buying a ticket for, and other than being tempted to go out into the kitchen to cook dinner in the middle, it’s very pleasant being able to sit in your own home and watch top class theatre. It’s not quite the same as live streaming of opera, plays or ballet in the cinema – it doesn’t have the same sense of occasion – but even so I made sure that I’d put my laptop away and my phone to one side.
Tomorrow the kids will be here – or some of them should be (if I’m going all the way down to Penrith I very much hope they WILL be here) and Bella and I could watch ballet from the Royal Opera House. But until then, I’ve opened and drank far too much of my ‘interval bottle’ of prosecco, and feel ready to fall into bed and slumber.
Sunday 5th April
On Friday morning after yoga and a short run I headed down to Penrith to fetch the children, stopping at Cranstons Penrith food hall en route (which was incredibly quiet – certainly the desperation for food and other necessities seems to have calmed). The kids seemed content to be heading back with me and Bella and Edward in particular were talking about how excited they were to see our cat, Artemis.
Once the kids were here I realised that the ‘loneliness’ I sometimes feel, and which can make me feel really low, isn’t so much from being alone as from feeling unloved – something which I think most parents feel to a greater or lesser extent. Almost as soon as they came in the house, and after they’d made a fuss of the cat, one of the children started demanding to be bought things. My arguments that I don’t know whether I may be furloughed on 80% pay, can’t keep going out to the shops (and don’t want to) and don’t want to run out of this month’s salary too soon, fell on deaf (teenage) ears. True I’m not paying for train fares and various lessons, but I don’t feel I can just go out and spend willy-nilly.
So having wondered why on earth I bothered to fetch them, there was then the pleasure of going for a walk with my two boys – even if the younger was being painfully slow and making a meal of it – and of doing sewing and then watching TV with my daughter. I guess the other thing is that they all want to do, and are capable of doing, such different things. And, whilst I don’t want to do the whole ‘it’s hard being a single parent’ thing, it is definitely far more difficult trying to deal with three kids on your own than when there are two (or even more) adults around: I’m definitely ‘Outnumbered‘.
Having taken this coming week as annual leave, to have the kids over the Easter holidays, it now looks as if none of them will be here. Bella complains bitterly if I ever go abroad without her (I can’t afford to take all the children – even my own holiday to Finland earlier this year was all paid for by credit card and is still being just slowly paid off (something I was hoping to pay off a bit more of if I was able to spend a bit less this month and next)), but I now feel that I may as well use my annual leave for myself if all they’re going to do is be at David’s when I’m in my house on my own while I’m on leave. The last 10 days or so have shown me that I can cope quite happily on my own – in fact the sad thing is that it’s a lot more tranquil when I’m on my own. I love my kids to bits and even though they drive me bonkers I still think they’re amazing in their own, very individual and completely different ways, and it makes me sad that they churn me up so much.
Speaking of being churned up, there’s now the fear of a more strict lockdown being enforced, as crowds of stupid people have been out in parks sunbathing. I’m somewhat less worked up about this than I was about the initial lockdown, but – what idiots! I can completely and utterly sympathise with people in city flats wanting to get out, but as someone said, why not just go for a walk and avoid other people, rather than sitting in a park making it obvious that you’re ignoring social distancing rules. I have been really enjoying my daily yoga and daily bike ride or run and feeling fitter and healthier than I have for ages; I shall be gutted if those of us who want to keep fit and healthy have to stop because of some selfish minority who think they’re not affected by the rules the rest of us are living by (and what about the Scottish Health Minister – what a twit, and what arrogance! She should be sacked. She doesn’t even deserve two houses at a time when some people are facing all sorts of financial problems).
I wonder how many circuits of my house would make up 5km? Would Strava even be able to measure such a short lap?
Monday 6th April – day 14
Well, that’s a fortnight gone, and no rumours on today’s News of lockdown getting more restrictive (I wonder how a sunny Easter weekend will affect people and lockdown, though). My children have gone back to their Dad’s. I did at least manage to get the boys out for a walk again today, and Edward helped a bit in the garden earlier. It’s been such a gorgeous day I’m amazed they weren’t champing at the bit to be outside all day. Edward’s hair is getting curly at the back as it’s getting longer; Alex is developing a floppy fringe in contrast to his normally acutely short ‘army cadet’ cut. I like them both with slightly longer hair!
Having dropped them off I decided I’d drive back on the country roads – along the lower slopes of the north Pennines, up through Lazonby, Kirkoswald, Croglin, Newbiggin and Castle Carrock. For a start it stopped me being tempted to nip into the Co-op for wine and chocolate; and also it’s a beautiful drive. I had ClassicFM on the radio, and passed plenty of people out for their evening exercise: we are so lucky living up here, surrounded by hills and greenery and gorgeous views.
I haven’t done much exercise myself the past few days as it doesn’t fit in with having the kids, and I’m getting itchy feet to be out on my bike. I need to fetch some toilet rolls at some point so if the weather continues like this I will fetch them by bike rather than in the car!
As I drove back I heard the news for the first time in ages. There were fewer deaths from Covid-19 today than yesterday but the Health Minister or someone said it’s too soon to speak of relaxing lockdown (clearly). It brought me up with a start: having been so worried about the restrictions of lockdown, I suddenly realised that I’m not ready for it to finish yet! The status of our lockdown at the moment – where you can still go to the supermarkets etc. for necessities, and when you can go out exercising once a day – has been suiting me fine. I’ve altered my pace of life, and want to be able to continue to do yoga every morning before work and to go for a run at lunchtime or in the evening, and a bike ride on the days when the kids aren’t with me!
People I’ve chatted to are already saying possibly this will change the way we live. I hope so; I really hope so. I’m somewhat sceptical about human greed though.
Meanwhile I’ve started a Garden Project so next week’s Lockdown Diary is going to be less about the logistics of lockdown and more about my garden. I should add that I’m not normally terribly keen on gardening, but this is an opportunity to do some major digging and redesigning (rather than just weeding): a bit like altering rooms inside the house. I’m thinking about a pond, although I know nothing about establishing one and last time I had a pond I killed off all the fish as I treated the water for algae bloom a little too vigorously. What I’d really love is some sort of cascading water feature, but I think that would be far to expensive and time-consuming to install and maintain.
Anyone got a spare bath?
I loved reading this account of regular life and regular thinking. I understand the thing about the kids. I miss my grandchildren and yet when they are over I miss my solitude. I do think this will kill retail which was already in decline. Why leave home when we have discovered we don’t have to. I have never enjoyed shopping, so I am fine with the change.
What I find a bit frustrating in this country about retail/high streets is that, instead of thinking how we can move forward and revitalise our high streets in some other way (e.g. converting shops to flats…), people seem set on trying to protect shops and retailers. It’s rather strange considering we live in a capitalist society which is meant to be driven by supply and demand! I’m hoping that some shops will still be available – there are some things I would prefer to buy in a shop rather than online – but I think as a whole the western world (the whole world?) needs to stop expecting so much ‘Stuff’ to be readily available, and to judge success by how much ‘stuff’ a person owns.
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Here there are either dollar stores or high end boutiques that seem to be surviving. The middle of the road places seem to be shutting. I still need to try on clothing, but it is harder to find places to do that that I can afford.
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