2020 The year the world stood still

Where do I begin with a world that has changed so much over the past twelve months and yet has remained essentially the same. If I had been told in December last year what this year would have been I would not have believed it.

January 2020 Derbyshire

I was working very hard and playing quite hard I was going out meeting friends. I was involved on lots of different projects and had many different interests. Whilst I have never been someone who went to parties or spent time drinking I was socialising usually whilst learning or cultivating a hobby.

In February the news from China became quite serious and with the influx of people carrying the virus and the cases of virus infection on cruise ships. People were dying of this infection and we were all worried.

By the time March had arrived the media were stoking the frenzy and magnifying all the risks and we were voluntarily withdrawing from going out and meeting people. On the 20th March we were worrying about keeping working because whilst we needed the money we would like to be alive or what is the point.

Auricula flowers early spring 2020

on the 23rd March everything stopped. My husband started to work from home. Setting up on the kitchen table with his laptop. The schools closed except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. All teaching went on line. All non essential shops shut.

I was in limbo I felt guilty for not being at work especially as I was still getting paid but whenever I broached the subject I was told to stay at home. I started gardening. Digging the allotment enabled me to have some fresh air and exercise and to keeep away from everyone

With no human interaction except with my husband when he wasn’t working every passer by and brief hello took on a new significance

I gave away rhubarb and kale and broccoli and lettuces, gooseberries and beans. I spoke to elderly people and neighbours and people with young children. I was so unused to being by myself for long periods of time.

Climbing French beans from the allotment

Making Pasta sauce in bulk from the allotment produce

As the weather improved I made lunches outdoors in the garden and persuaded my husband to join me for a glass of wine every lunch. We agreed this was a lot better than a sandwich snatched at our desks. we rejoiced in the luxury of getting up at 7am or even 7:30 instead of 6am.

My favourite rose blooming in the garden at home

We made rainbows and hung them in our windows. We clapped on the doorstep every Thursday for the NHS

Minature rainbow quilt Spring 2020

I found I didn’t need much to make me happy. We saved money with no fuel costs much smaller food shopping as the shops were much emptier especially when people were panic buying.

I discovered a new interest in you tube and watched many videos on living a simpler life. I did some DIY and some weaving. For the first time in years I lost my tired look and the dark circles under my eyes.

Hand knitted sweater
Close up of handwoven throw for the sofa plain weave

Then some of my friends got together on zoom and I learned a new skill of using zoom. We stayed in every night and I began to play the piano again and knit. I read the books that had been piling up from presents.

One Saturday I went to the small bakery in Nottingham and came home with a sour dough starter culture. It is called Sam and lives in our kitchen I feed him every day and he makes all our bread. Strangely having got used to sourdough bread supermarket bread tastes insipid….

First hand made sourdough bread loaf

In summer the rules were relaxed and we managed a week’s holiday in Scotland.

We stayed in an guesthouse in the Cairngorms. We walked and laughed and ate lovely food and did some shopping and watched birds.

We ate cake and drank coffee. We laughed and read and every day We learned a little more Italian or practised what we had learned.

By September we were back the schools had returned and we were working again. We were not working as hard because we were not teaching in the same way. We learned to cope with bubbles and contact and trace systems. All our meetings became virtual ones and still my husband worked from home. In October I did something called BRITSPIN a number of days spent spinning and meeting challenges.

Single from fleece spun on an Ashford traditional wheel

A second lockdown we worked we did chores we phoned our family and played pub quizzes over Zoom with the family. I carried on playing the piano religiously doing my scales and arpeggios and practising pieces. We carried on learning Italian

Blackcurrants from the allotment we made 18 lbs of blackcurrant jam

We hadn’t seen our sons for months nor parents, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. The weather was getting colder and wetter, the nights were getting longer and it was really rather miserable. We put up Christmas decorations and lights to brighten up the gloom. We cooked warm dishes and made hot drinks to keep out spirits up. We snuggled under quilts to keep warm. Sometimes when we were feeling miserable we stayed in bed until 10 am at the weekend reading and phoning the family drinking tea and cuddling up.

We went for walks when it was dry telling ourselves we needed the exercise and the connection with nature. Everywhere was busy full of other families going for walks to keep themselves busy and healthy. With no other source of amusement we have become a nation of walkers, runners and cyclists.

The path over the hill at the back of the house

So here we are at Christmas I have missed my family so much. We have managed to see one son and his girlfriend. I have found this year very difficult. We have lost people who should still be here. Many people have lost their livelihoods and it touches us all. Our lives are completely disrupted and it looks as if this will continue into the new year.

I have missed listening to live music no concerts or plays. I feel deprived of anything worthy, as if I have been excluded from anything uplifting.

Today is Christmas day 2020. We had prepared a lovely meal and were expecting guests (family). I had cleaned and tidied the house in readiness. their car broke down we spent Christmas day with them waiting for the AA to come and rescue us. Despite this we did at least see them. We did exchange gifts and we did have hot soup and rolls to eat. Not quite the full roast dinner I had planned but it is certainly a Christmas we will remember.

Despite the difficulties of the year I think we have learned a number of things

We do not need much to make us happy.

We are more resilient than we thought we were

Family and people are more important than things or money

The worth of a person does not consist in the abundance of their possessions nor how attractive they are or how trendy they are.

When things are bad people show immense kindness to others

Making things yourself and doing things for yourself is very rewarding and empowering

We have survived and whilst many people may be poorer and some have been very ill we are all still here. If you are suffering my heart goes out to you. It has been a truly heart-breaking year for many people. For all of you I raise a festive glass and wish you all a happy new year and hope that 2021 is better than this year.

Merry Christmas everybody.

Scotland Bridge of Grudie August 2020