Life is busy, therefore the blog is quiet. This is the usual theme. Odd in some ways – I want to write when there’s nothing to report on, and rarely write when there is plenty going on that I could write about. Meh.
So, the husband is going into work twice a week from next week, and this has reminded me of a blog I’ve been wanting to write for a while:
‘The positive aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic’
Eek! Is that entirely contradictory and simultaneously heartless?! Or is it a truthful life statement: two seemingly opposing concepts that are both equally correct?!
Stop pontificating Lara!
Things we have benefitted from since March 2020:
More time together as a family
A lot of extra help with Theodore and Rafe
Legal time with my immediate family during the 2021 winter lockdown
The husband being able to see his children grow in a way we never imagined
Saving money on the commute (no travelcard needed for the spare room)
There, I’ve done it, I’ve said it out loud. There are good things about having the opportunity to work from home and to having more family time together. Shame it comes at a massive fucking cost to society, but no-one could see the future in March 2020. Even Boris and co.
And here are the negatives:
Way too much time together as a family
Slightly excessive drinking because there was nothing else to do
Too much bickering as a couple because we were bored and had too little external input
No living room or carpet March to July 2020 (trust us to renovate just before a lockdown)
No employment for me March to May 2020
No nursery for Rafe March to May 2020
Really missing family and friends
In conclusion, hooray for the office! And nursery! And work! And baby cinema! And the husband being able to buy an overpriced cappuccino and croissant for £7 (!) come Monday.
I’ll miss you when I want a shower whilst looking after two kids, but I won’t miss you enough to make you feel bad about having your time out of the house.
Feeling a bit mardy today, so thought it best to get myself out of the house and into the fresh air. I’m not very good staying at home for more than a day in a row, and Tuesday was spent gardening and watching YouTube. Currently fixing the mardy with a cuppa in Greenwich.
Why mardy? A combination of things… lockdown delay, sodding Matt Hancock, slight (ridiculous) fear that I’ll never get to leave this island ever again, not singing indoors, probably a bit tired, had a baby in January… blah blah blah.
Overall though, it is the lack of singing that is really f*cking me off. Especially when footage of Wimbledon and the Euros shows THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of people having fun and DRINKING, while amateur choral singers like myself are checking the fecking weather every five seconds to see if we get to stand outside and sing. Not to mention the fact that we are social distancing the entire bloody time. OMG F*CK OFF.
My (predominantly elderly) choir Lewisham Choral Society has been taking very cautious baby steps to get us back together after many months of online rehearsals. But for those who wish to come to outdoor rehearsals, we’ve only managed to hold 2 out of 4 rehearsals after a test session at the end of May.
On Monday afternoon we cancelled the rehearsal due a forecast of rain, to then see a cloudy, calm and dry evening. FFS.
It is utterly infuriating, especially after being tantalized with two absolutely super rehearsals with our fantastic professional music team. It was completely glorious to sing Requiems by Fauré and Rutter, and to get to see the lovely people I’ve been singing with for twelve years!
I’ve actually been kind of musically heartbroken these past 18 months, but I’ve just ignored the whole issue as it is too frustrating, and there’s no point focusing on something so out of your control.
I’ve not performed in a concert since December 2019, and I love singing so so so much. To go from eight concerts a year to none is just vile, and it is such a social punishment for all amateur musicians alike.
And because we all know (I hope) that COVID isn’t bloody going anywhere, when will we get our normal back? When will we get to sing and perform for others? When will it be financial viable to even put on a concert? When will those who are more at risk from COVID than I return to rehearsals? Will they ever?
My god that was a depressing paragraph to write.
Takes a deep breath
In conclusion, the government are a big massive shit for putting other social activities above choral singing. If it’s okay for some, why not others? It’s bloody discrimination.
What can we do? Not much, but there’s always a petition to sign, so sign that at least, and maybe write to your MP. The one below isn’t mine, but at least there’s one that seems to give a toss about it?
Time to cross my fingers and toes for next week’s rehearsal…
With Lockdown 3 upon us and the last minute U-turn on school closures, it has been a bit of a mentally challenging week. “OMG what is going to happen to nurseries” was my mantra last Sunday and Monday, and luckily the husband hasn’t hit me over the head with an axe for being so stressy about it all.
Whether or not you agree with nurseries and schools being open or closed, it doesn’t change the realities of life for those with children, for those without children who work in education, nor for those who work in education and have children.
I’ve been tentatively making friends with the mum of my son’s best friend at nursery, and as a teacher in one school, with an older child in another school, and the best friend at nursery, talking to her makes me incredibly sympathetic to the constant mental strain our educators are under.
And whilst it is just one area of strain in our society, and perhaps not as critical as our healthcare sector, I’d be loathe to minimise or criticise anyone for speaking out about their professional and personal concerns – even if I really want them to say it is all sunshine and daisies and buttercups.
As for me, well, we got through the first week of nursery after Christmas, and we have one more week to go before the husband’s current contract ends. Worst case scenario right now? Nurseries are shut (bar key workers) Monday and I have to try and juggle work and Rafe for two days. That’s fairly tame.
And why does any of this matter or stress me so? Well, I’m pregnant and ready to pop come the 27th of January, so the idea of managing a newborn and a 2 year and 9 month old child with no nursery fills me with a bit of terror and dread!
Then my wonderful and adorable husband Sam tries to reassure me with the fact he has no work after next week, so can look after Rafe while I work for a few more weeks, and then will definitely be around to hit the ground running with Rafe for whenever I pop! And we get to have a support bubble for when he does get a new contract!
Lovely! Let’s just ignore the fact that we are going from a 1.5 income household to a no income household! Woop de do!
BUT. We have savings because we are boring and responsible, and because that’s what you should do when you have a mortgage and two children (nearly). So it is all FINE. IT’S FINE. FINE. FINE. FINE. Blah blah blah.
Oh that feels better.
I think there is a definite correlation between why I’ve not blogged since the end of Lockdown 1 and the start of Lockdown 3… LOLz.
Anyway, on a less whiny note, let’s share a few photos of the fun things we did do in 2020, and let’s repeat a better mantra ad infinitum:
Self education is key, and I found the process of writing about historical conflicts and events a useful way to process the somewhat overwhelming sense of uselessness I initially felt. Which is obviously a very lucky position to be. I get to feel, others just die.
But, to keep my brain more uplifted, I’ve also spent time getting excited about Rafe Going Back to Nursery. And this is something to rejoice in. And rejoice I have.
Today was his third week back, and he’s just having a ball. He’s getting covered in paint every day, spending time with other children, and picking up a ton of new phrases every week. It is amazing.
I’m so grateful that his nursery have opened their doors to the children of non-key workers, and I’m so happy that they seem to be doing okay after having to furlough a number of their staff.
I spent a lot of last weekend’s Bank Holiday reading about Dominic Cummings, and his trips to Durham and Barnard Castle. Most of my reading was done on Twitter, with the BBC and a variety of tweeted articles thrown in for good measure.
It was enjoyable in some ways, but it was also all-consuming and dumb. Obsessing over a news story is not helpful, or healthy. It also makes you quite a bore to your husband, and he was irritated with me constantly checking my timeline.
By Monday I think a bit of news fatigue had set in as I started to lose interest in the story. And given there has been no resignation or sacking, what’s the point of giving an actual shit about the situation. No-one in the government seems to actually care one toss about what happened, and how it comes across to the general public, so what is the point of me retweeting statements from aggrieved Conservative MPs.
Obviously, herein lies the rub, if I grow tired of the story and ‘move on’ as Dear Leader would like us to, then they win. Therefore, it is probably best to conclude that we are all fucked. ?
I probably won’t stop reading Twitter though, for one there isn’t enough to do at the moment, and for two, if we don’t keep complaining then they definitely do win. I just need to remember to take a break from the incessant refreshing, particularly when my son and husband are about.
On the 12th of May my son’s nursery emailed to say we could request a place for our son to go back to nursery (if we wished). Neither of us are key workers, and my freelance job ended in March, so we don’t need the two days per se, but I decided to request a space while making it clear that we don’t expect Rafe to be prioritised over a child with working parents/carers.
A few days later I was really excited to have his usual days confirmed, and we have started talking to him about going back. We will be crossing our fingers and toes, and hoping that all goes well, as he’s effectively starting again. ?
Not all parents will be comfortable sending their children to school or nursery, but given the data on Coronavirus deaths in the young, and school reports from other EU countries like Denmark, the husband and I don’t feel worried about sending him back. And to be honest, at this point, I’m thinking more about his social interaction with children of his own age – or the lack of.
I’ve been trying to find clear government guidance (hahaha), or a scholarly article on the importance of social interaction for children, and frustratingly I’ve got a bit stuck. However, the Mental Health Foundation states the following:
As children grow up, their ability to form and sustain relationships – be that with peers, parents, teachers etc. is crucial.
… If we can make sure that babies, children and young people are able to form and maintain positive relationships in ways that make sense to them, then this will help get them off to a good start in life and support their mental development.
Paula Lavis, Co-ordinator of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition
And that is pretty much how I feel – the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
I’ve also been inspired by Professor Karol Sikora‘s calm demeanor and positive attitude regarding the pandemic, and more recently the debate about schools reopening.
I started following him on Twitter a month or so ago and he’s been a real breath of fresh air on my timeline – and I know that my mental health needs a good dose of positivity to counteract the whirling negativity I’ve be prone recently. There is always a fine balance between reading the news and drowning in the news…
From a selfish point of view, I’m also really looking forward to some me time. Not couple time or family time, or ‘steal an hour here or there on the weekend’ time, actual ME time. Doing the washing up while the husband plays with the child is not me time. Driving down to the post office and standing in a queue is not really me time. Even the excitement of fortnightly trip to the supermarket is wearing off a little…
But what do I do with the time? I must make plans! And I must leave the house! Watch this space… ?
Now we are in the ninth week of lockdown, and a lot of us are fairly used to our new lives, it’s possible that we might gloss over the early days of lockdown, and think it wasn’t actually that stressful, and that things aren’t so dramatically different from ‘LIFE BEFORE THE COVID’.
That assessment is probably incorrect… it is significantly different, and it will be a long time before things are back to how they were… presuming that day WILL come. ?
So, to things that have made my life and other people’s lives better… the local food heroes in my area.
The VeryGreen Grocer
Based in Shooters Hill, The VeryGreen Grocer has been delivering to homes in South East London since 2010. Run by Mike, Mike, Barbara and Simone, their vans deliver groceries, dairy and bread every week, Monday to Friday.
Luckily for us, the husband had registered as a new customer 3 weeks before lockdown, and we started getting a weekly delivery at the end of March. The company stopped accepting new customers for a while due to demand from far and wide, but we were very reassured by their tweets explaining their new ordering process.
Things seem to have settled down since March and customers can now order through their site as usual. And they are now accepting new customers, so do email them your address and postcode if you would like an account, and the team will respond.
Below is the box we had delivered at beginning of April – full of lovely tasty good things, and we’ve been reminding ourselves how to eat in order of freshness. I’ve also had a lot of fun looking up BBC Good Food recipes to work out what to cook with what we have, and I’ve become a big fan of cabbage – which I never expected! Blame Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
We are still doing a big shop at Sainsbury’s every fortnight, but we are keeping up a weekly fruit and veg order, and are very happy to continue to support the VeryGreen family.
The Plumstead Pantry
Usually a cafe on Plumstead Common, The Plumstead Pantry has converted itself into a bakery cum grocer cum delivery service over the past two months. The owners Ash and Julia also used crowdfunding to help with the conversion, and were able to raise over £5,000 in just 14 days.
I wasn’t really aware of the business until April as I’ve only driven through Plumstead Common a few times, but I saw a tweet from a local friend about the cafe, and after a good nosey at their Twitter and Facebook, it turned out they were having regular deliveries of plain flour. At the time we had nearly run out, and as the flour shelves were/are usually empty at Sainsburys, the husband was very keen to get some!
After buying 2kg of plain flour, plus 1kg for our friends, we have since branched out into tin loaves and their very scrumptious cinnamon buns – they drip with sweetness and are just heavenly.
As well as their 1 in, 1 out policy at the cafe (with beautiful views across the Common), you can also pre-order goods for collection or delivery. Delivery is free within SE18 and surrounding areas, and there is a handy WhatsApp button on their Facebook page if you want to place an order (DMs on Twitter are also used).
And many thanks to Julia for not ringing the doorbell when delivering, Rafe nap time is sacred! ?
Old Cottage Coffee Shop Cafe
We used to live in Charlton and one of my favourite haunts was the Old Cottage Coffee Shop Cafe in Charlton Park. I still visit before Monday music at Charlton House, and do I love having a jacket potato with bacon and cheese while Rafe wriggles about with his own lunch.
Every Christmas the cafe organises a Christmas Day lunch for the elderly, and since Coronavirus closed their doors, Michael and Mimi have been cooking and delivering food to those unable to leave their homes. Based on their tweets, they are delivering lunches to at least 20 people 3 times a week. Amazing! If you can help with the lunch deliveries, please contact Michael.
Hopefully we will all be back there soon!
The Red Lion
Since a new management team took over in 2019, The Red Lion has been aiming for a more family friendly vibe. A few months ago I went with my husband, son and in-laws for an early evening meal, we had a great time, and we all really enjoyed the food.
While the pub is closed, Danny Brooker and his team have been supporting a number of individuals, NHS hospitals, care homes and hospices in the local area.
Funds are being raised through crowdfunding, and hundreds of meals are being prepared at each cooking session. A separate team are then organising and delivering the food. Super super impressive, and a wonderful thing to read about.
After last Saturday’s walk by the river, and my walk through Oxleas Woods yesterday, I’m getting fired up and excited to be out and about.
Whatever you think about last Sunday’s video presentation from Dear Leader, the fact that we are now allowed out more for exercise fills me with nothing but joy.
Obviously this is ridiculous, no police officer is watching you through a set of binoculars just in case you step outside more than once a day, but the removal of the social pressure is certainly helpful.
And I think the announcement has lifted some of the fug I’ve felt around myself since lockdown began in March. I’ve definitely had a good week with no low moments, and given I’ve not had any errands to keep me busy, I think I’m doing alright. ?
I woke up in a great mood today: we had some nice family time before the husband started work, and then I did some writing for another blog while Rafe played with his toys (intermingled with cuddles and Mummy chest raspberries). And once showered and dressed, I went to Greenwich for the first time in 7 weeks, yay! ?
It was a BEAUTIFUL day today, and we had a wonderful walk through the park with some chill time on the grass during Rafe’s nap. The buggy also rolled down the hill because I didn’t put the brake on properly. It was pretty funny, and it didn’t bash into anyone so YAY!
A little later I ‘picked up’ some lunch via Deliveroo and we sat in St Alfege Park while a squirrel watched us eat. Rafe did some running around, and then we went down to the river for additional running plus climbing. I missed the river so!
After a play by the Cutty Sark we circled back to the park where Rafe pretty much gave up walking and climbed in his buggy. There was a brief bit of running away and hiding in some tall grass after a breather, but by about 4.15pm he was ready to head home via Daddy taxi. ?
A wonderful trip out, and keep scrolling for photos!
I started today feeling low, partially because I was obsessing over things out of my control, and probably because of the jump from four days all together, to just Rafe and I. Yay.
My solution was to lie down on the floor of the dining room for 20 minutes while the child played next to me.
It is as a good a response as any.
But then I had some breakfast and my husband came down from ‘the office’ for a coffee. We had some chats and played with Rafe, and the despondency passed somewhat.
A short while later we had a pre-nap run down the hill and had some fun at the bus stop.
Also while chatting, I had a message from Hired about a job interview, woo hoo! I ended up having the phone interview during Rafe’s nap, then went straight out into the garden for some water play in the sunny sun.
Once he’d had enough after 30 minutes or so, he got out and then we cuddled in the sun for ages. Heaven. He’s gotten so cuddly recently, it is SO lovely.
That got us to 4pm, and with that we got dressed again, ran about upstairs and then settled down in the dining room for some Ben & Holly at 4.30pm. The husband finishes work at 5.30pm, so an hour-ish of TV for one day is good by my standards!
I then chopped some more logs, and everything was much better than at the start of the day. Hurrah!
Plus, we had freshly breaded cod, scampi, peas and fries for tea. YES.