Lockdown part 3…. Week 19

I can’t quite believe that tomorrow marks the end of most of the restrictions in England and that life will return to as normal as it has been for a long time and what may be the new normal for some time to come.

Not a lot will change for me on a day-to-day basis, but I imagine some people will be desperate to go to restaurants, bars, the cinema, indoor attractions etc.

Whatever your plans are moving forward, I hope you will be kind to yourself and only do what you feel comfortable doing. Some people will feel cautious or uncomfortable and others may feel completely relaxed but the main thing is to consider how you feel and not to feel pressured by anyone. We have spent more than a year living with varying degrees of restrictions, some of us have been working remotely, some may not have left their house, ventured into shops or been anywhere crowded (in some large towns and cities social distancing seems to have already gone out the window!).

Some people may feel excited about having more freedom and others may be anxious, I hope that people will be kind to one another as there is no right or wrong. We don’t know what people are feeling or what their personal circumstances are. Yes, there are lots of people who have now had either one or both vaccinations but there are also lots of people who have had neither and of course there is the unknown about how the Indian variation may affect things. I am hopeful that vaccinations will still protect us at least enough to prevent anyone from being hospitalised.

I read an interesting article based on the virus experts’ opinions about the next stage of lockdown easing and the general consensus was cautiousness particularly in the next couple of weeks until we see what impact the easing has had on the number of cases etc. Like the experts I will still feel more comfortable sitting outside at cafes or restaurants or at least somewhere where there are limited numbers and 2 metres between tables. I found it interesting to read that all indoor exercise classes can resume but that high intensity classes pose more of a risk than say yoga as people expel more air when doing such classes. Fortunately, I wasn’t planning on attending any indoor exercise classes!!

There is still a feeling of limbo or that the government are hoping for the best but taking a stab in the dark when it comes to making decisions (yes, I know they say all decisions are based on data but it is obvious that a lot has to do with the economy, and we know the UK government has made mistakes otherwise we wouldn’t have the 5th highest number of Covid deaths).

Wales has advised people not to travel abroad until next year whereas England is allowing foreign travel to resume from next week. However, I am not sure how many countries will want us due to the increasing number of cases linked with the Indian variant. People won’t find out if they can go on holiday until the government updates the traffic light list which could mean you may not find out until the day before you are due to go. Although I had hoped to be able to take my girls abroad before my eldest starts school in September, I am relieved that I didn’t book anything and instead have planned a couple of staycations!

I got another chance to drive to York this week for my second Covid vaccine and I am now one of 15 million people in the UK to be fully vaccinated. I was a little anxious about having my 2nd vaccine as I had the Astra Zeneca and not long ago it was announced that all under 40’s would be offered a different vaccine because of a small number of people getting blood clots. However, I found it interesting that you are more likely to get a blood clot from taking the pill than from having the Astra Zeneca vaccine, yet a lot of people take the pill without batting an eyelid.

…..

As tomorrow marks the end of lockdown as we know it, this will be my last lockdown blog, but I will still write about life after lockdown!

…..

I am excited that my blog now has 100 followers from all over the world! I cannot tell you how much it means, and I want to thank everyone for reading my blog. My blog has now been read by people from the UK, USA, Malaysia, India, China, Japan, South Africa, Canada, Romania, Ecuador, Russia, Indonesia, Egypt, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, Albania, Slovakia, France, and Israel!

So, thank you, thanks, terima kasih, dhanyavad, xiè xiè, arigatou, dankie, mulțumesc, gracias, Спасибо, shukraan, Go raibh maith agat, merci vielmal, Dziękuję, bedankt, tack, faleminderit, Ďakujem, merci, todah!

Lockdown part 3….Week 16

This week has felt almost as if lockdown is over…doing school runs, seeing friends, going in shops, seeing beer gardens full and the return to college. I’ve been doing my counselling course remotely since October and when we did go in during September, we were split into groups, so I had only met some of my fellow students. I am surprised that I wasn’t nervous due to Covid and meeting people for the first time but having seen everyone virtually for the past 6 months it felt like I knew everybody already. We had to keep our masks on for the full 4 hours which was rather unpleasant particularly as it was so hot inside, I should have turned up in my bikini!! (Not that I ever would, let alone be seen in one!) I feel a little safer being out and about having had one of my vaccines, but I am aware that people can still carry the virus even if they don’t get it themselves. I have been taking lateral flow tests now that my girls are back in pre-school which I am now used to but still find myself sneezing like a trooper afterwards as it tickles! It is interesting how it doesn’t phase my girls when they see people in masks or taking lateral flow tests, it’s something that I think they associate as a normal part of life and are more likely to find it odd if they see people without masks on, but I imagine it will be along time before this happens when generally out and about.

…..

I managed to submit my case study and final assignment and with time to spare! I don’t know if I have passed yet, but fingers crossed! Now all that is left is the presentation, where we have to talk about ourselves for 10 minutes with reference to our own philosophy and beliefs and our journey so far. No where does it say that we can’t play a song for 10 minutes as long as it fulfils these objectives!!!! (Wishful thinking!) I have never felt comfortable talking about myself or talking in front of a group of people, so this is going to be a challenge for me. It’s almost as if I have barriers that go up at the thought which prevent me from even thinking about what I could say about myself. I was asked to write a bio about myself to go on the website of the provider that I will be completing my counselling placement at and I drew a blank. Despite reading what other people had written about themselves I didn’t know where to start. So, I called on my Mum for ideas and she did an amazing job, so I got out of that one!!

We’ve got at least a month before we’ll be released into the big wide world on placement so aside from the presentation, we have finished our first year of the course! It has flown by and I can’t believe that in a years’ time I will (hopefully) be finished and therefore be a fully qualified counsellor. I realised that next weekend I can actually have a weekend off from studying and don’t know what to do with myself!

I had a wobble this week when someone said something that knocked me down, inside I was fighting crumbling and telling myself that I am a failure and should give up my course. I know it wouldn’t have been long ago that I would have fallen apart, felt very down and lost sight of everything I have worked so hard for. However, thanks to this course and my own counselling and inner strength I am trying to fight against these thoughts and feelings and reflect upon why the words of one person can affect me so much. Why do the words and opinions of so many other people suddenly no longer matter but instead I am only thinking about and valuing the words of this one person? Admittedly I have them on a pedestal which may be why I value their words so much but equally I have learnt on my course that we do not need to value what other people say, instead it’s our choice to accept what other people say and it’s down to us what we do and how we react.

Do I allow one person to have such an impact on me? I know that I have worked incredibly hard to get where I am, battling through despite everything else that has been going on with my life. I have secured a placement at a fantastic independent organisation working with children, young people and their families and I have a lot of people that believe in me and have encouraged me to do this. I need to reflect on where it stems from this feeling of failure based on what one person says. Does it come from when my ‘father’ walked out when I was 8 or is it when I was at school and teachers humiliated me when I was having panic attacks? It could be something that has become internalised as I remember from an early age wanting to give up when something happened that either upset me or make me feel uncomfortable and because my Mum didn’t want me to be upset I often ended up giving up rather than carrying on and I have realised that what I wanted and needed was to be encouraged to carry on but as a young child I either wasn’t aware of this or couldn’t verbalise this and so it has carried on throughout my life.

…..

I saw someone who hasn’t seen me in a long time, and they commented on how well I looked, and I said it’s because I am finally free! It does feel like a huge weight has been lifted and that finally I can rediscover myself – at times it feels as though I am having a 30 something life crisis or rebelling!!! Talking of which…. look out for next week’s blog!

Lockdown part 3….Week 8

Well, I feel as though I should eat my hat after the government’s announcement on Monday regarding easing of lockdown restrictions. I was pleasantly surprised that the focus was on our social activity in terms of being allowed to meet people outside, to be able to sit and have a drink with them, leading up to being able to sit in people’s gardens and meet more than 1 person.

For me this is what I have missed the most and felt frustrated when in previous times pubs and restaurants have remained open (where although social distancing is in place you don’t know who you are sitting in an enclosed place with or whom they have mixed with) yet we were t allowed to see friends/family etc.

Just knowing it won’t be long before I can legitimately drive my girls to the seaside or countryside will feel liberating and very exciting. I’m not sure how I feel about visiting farms etc when they open again in April. Part of me is desperate to go as we missed out on this last year but part of me is hesitant as I imagine places will be busy particularly to begin with when everyone is desperate to go out. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of being somewhere crowded even if it is outside. I’m hoping places will still have measures in place to make it feel safer but only time will tell.

I have felt the general consensus amongst people is a mixed feeling…excitement and relief to get back to some sort of normality, mixed with anxiety about what lies ahead and if easing lockdown will cause a surge in cases. I guess we just have to take one step and a time and do what feels right for ourselves.

I feel as though since Monday’s announcement some people have decided that if certain measures will be relaxed in so many weeks’ time that it doesn’t make any difference if they take it upon themselves to start now. I find this very frustrating. As much as I’m not a massive fan of our government I believe we have been given dates for a reason and that Boris didn’t just say we can meet one other person outside to sit on a bench from 8th March or whenever you feel like it!

It feels as though some people have forgotten that the dates we have been given for further relaxations of rules is based on vaccinations still being given at the rate intended, that evidence shows that vaccines are reducing hospitisations and deaths in those vaccinated, that infection rates don’t risk a surge in hospitalisations and that risks are not fundamentally affected by new variants of the virus.

Maybe people believe that if they have had their vaccine (baring in mind that most of those who have, will have only had one of two), then they can’t catch the virus or spread it. Surveys from December showed that 29% of people admitted that they would adhere less strictly to the rules and I imagine that figure has increased lately.

I appreciate people are desperate for life to return to normal but fear if we don’t stick to the rules that are in place things could quickly spiral again and we’ll be in a full dock down again before we even come out of this one.

I’ve stuck to the rules 99% of the time despite wanting to go places and escape the same walks etc because I know how quickly things can snowball if the virus is spread.

Yes, I’ve had my vaccine, but it’s not been 12 days, yet which is when they say it becomes effective, aside from this they aren’t clear about if it prevents you being able to carry the virus therefore exposing others.

I know I’ll have to tip my toe in the water at some point and I will but I’m in no rush to throw myself straight in the deep end when restrictions are eased.

I’ve read that there has been a massive surge in holiday bookings, understandably, yet to my knowledge we haven’t been given information on practicalities related to any restrictions in place such as quarantine, testing etc either in the UK or abroad. I know that many countries still have quarantine in place for visitors, some countries require you to be tested prior to leaving the UK and again on arrival, others are only allowing people not to quarantine if they can prove they have had both of their vaccinations. There still is lots of if’s, buts and maybes which will hopefully become clearer as time goes by.

I’m in the fortunate position where I don’t need to send my girls back to childcare on the 8th March and decided a while ago that I wouldn’t. Partly because it would only be for a few weeks before the Easter holidays, partly because I want to see what the impact is on schools reopening first and partly to enjoy them that little bit longer whilst I can. All being well and if the R rate doesn’t go through the roof, I’ll send them back after Easter.

It’s hard to believe that in a few months’ time lockdown could be completely over.

During our 7th week in lockdown, as usual we have done lots of arts, crafts and baking this week. The girls made chocolate fridge cake and savoury breakfast muffins this week with quite a few ingredients ‘disappearing’ in the process!!

We’ve done lots of spring and Easter arts including bunny and chick handprints, finger painting sheep and lambs and mosaic Easter pictures. (I decided to replace the handprint heart in our window with a spring theme instead which is now in place – my eldest daughter loved creating the display – I’ve put a picture of it at the end of this post)

On Friday it felt like spring had arrived…we had a crystal-clear blue sky; the sun was shining, and the birds were singing away. I hung my washing outside for the first time this year (which felt exciting…its bizarre what things excite you as you get older!) and I got our garden furniture out.

It reminded me of the first lockdown when I could leave the door open into our garden and the girls would play outside for hours.

They decided to fill their paddling pool up and splash in their wellies after much persuasion that it wasn’t warm enough to go in in bare feet!! They also enjoyed it when I apparently made it snow with washing up bubbles! We also got our sand pit back out and they had fun building sandcastles. Whilst sitting outside, feeling the sun on my face, I closed my eyes for a few seconds and it almost felt as though I could have been on holiday!

The girls even had a teddy bears picnic outside (we love picnics and find any excuse to have them inside or out!).

Everything seems so much brighter when the suns shining…Hopefully we’ll get more sunny days like this.