Inspired by Alistair Campbell’s recent feature in The New European, here are my ’20 Things I’m Missing During Lockdown’ – listed in priority order per the rules. Mine are a mix of existential and tangible, but all sorely missed.

  1. The excitement of researching, planning and booking trips. This really is my favourite thing of all time, and the husband will definitely confirm this to be true. Usually I am mentally planning the next thing while on the current expedition, so to have no plans is quite unbearable. And to have no clue when we can visit another country again is quite vile. We are really hoping that our fishing trip to Ross-on-Wye in July can go ahead. ?
  2. Meals out. Not that we regularly go out for super grand meals now we have a Rafe, but even Nandos is out of the question – the perfect place to relax and eat while the child noshes his way through a giant corn on the cob. Also missing Rosa’s Thai, The Old Cottage Coffee Shop, Boulangerie Jade at Blackheath Standard, and McDonalds (obviously). Instead, I shall cast my mind back to the pre-Rafe days of fancy hotel restaurants, and weekends away spending lots and lots at swanky Michelin star eateries.
  3. Nights out / Date nights. Not the food per se (that has its own category duh), just the act of getting ready to go out, not being with our son, being free for a bit. We used to go out a lot with my in-laws, and now they are our main babysitter, we do that rarely. We were quite lucky to see Paul Carrack at The London Palladium with them just before everything closed. Just like old times. ❤️
  4. Driving to places new. I learnt to drive in 2015 and I absolutely love it. I love driving in France, I love discovering new parts of our nation, I love driving on motorways, I love listening to music and podcasts in the car, I love escaping somewhere with the family. It is the best. But right now, I feel guilty driving to Catford where my aunt lives to drop things off for her, and it is only 4 miles away! I keep waiting for the police to pull me over and tell me off, but then I remind myself that they have better things to do… but I am trying to stick to the speed limits a little more carefully now…
  5. My mother and father in law. Some people reading this might be aware that both my parents are dead, and as such, I am particularly close to my in-laws in a way that might not have happened if my parents were about. So, we really miss them, we really do! And Rafe absolutely adores them, and they him. My husband is also super close with his parents – it is so lovely to see. I was very close with my Dad, but he was such a different character to Sam’s parents, so I have such a different but equally wonderful relationship with them. Waaaaaaaaaah, stupid lockdown!
  6. My aunts. I have 5 aunts, and I’m quite close to 2 of them. My aunt Jeanette is particularly in love with Rafe and is missing him oodles, and I am missing her. Jeanette helped raise me during the school holidays along with my nan, her mum Brenda and we’ve been making a big effort since her early retirement and my pregnancy to see each other every 6 weeks or so. Luckily my aunt and uncle sneaked in a previously delayed visit (due to Storm Ciara) the day before lockdown – hopefully we will all meet again soon. My aunt Yvonne is my only local aunt, and it has been lovely to say hello when dropping things off at her front door. My dad’s job took us out of London when I was 5 and we lost touch for a while, but I spent about 10 Christmases in a row at her house until I met Sam when I was 24. She’s also a big part of my life, and I’m so happy that we get to see each other nearly every Monday as she finally joined my choir (after a good prodding) 5 or 6 years ago.
  7. My friends. I’ve never had a huge group of friends, but I have 6 or so good friends I can definitely rely on if needed. I’ve made 3 of them since having Rafe, and it is really wonderful to keep making friends the older I get, and the extended network of partners and children is fantastic. I’m also pretty lucky that the 3 friends and their children all love spending time with my son (and hopefully me ?).
  8. Singing. I’ve already written about this in detail, but bloody hell I miss it. The neighbours were treated to some very loud singing along to Kate Bush last week. Lucky them. And thank you to Julie and Cinzia from my chamber choir for their little notes about what they are doing, and how they are missing choir and me (!). ❤️
  9. The structure of life. I need structure. I needs it hobbits! Hence the blog… some sort of mental structure if no actual structure bar cleaning, feeding, dressing and playing with the child.
  10. Being near people. Not at the top of the list because I do like my own space, but this is too much! I miss people. I miss the buzz of a pub or restaurant. I miss Rafe meeting random children and having a chat. Ho hum.
  11. Pubs. Not that I’m getting pissed every five seconds, but I do love a good pub. Especially since the smoking ban. It was a fair bit smoky and smelly at university, but whiling away time in a pub is wonderful. I went to a pub with my friend Rebecca in February and the child slept for 2.5 hours, it was amazing. So much lunchtime chat.
  12. Central London. Man it is the best. Getting a tube, a bus, a train, a whatever. Pootling about seeing the sights, going down to the river, getting some lunch, taking Rafe somewhere fun, occasional nights out. Love it so much. Really really glad I moved back here in 2007! The last time I was down by the Thames was in February, I popped up on the train for lunch at Rosa’s Thai while he napped, and then we saw the water fountains by City Hall, and looked at Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. It was beautiful, sunny and cold, and he had a lovely run about. I’m so excited that he will get to experience all that London has to offer the older he gets. Miss you!
  13. Canary Wharf. I love buildings, I really really do, and there is something simply magnificent about walking about the place, and seeing new and old rubbing up alongside each other. Alternatively, get on the DLR at Lewisham or Greenwich and snake your way up the Isle of Dogs to any one of the stations cutting through the middle of the area. Pre-Rafe we loved a cheeky trip to Canary Wharf for a drink or dinner, and although that has changed, we now visit for completely different but equally wonderful things. One of my favourite days out with Rafe is the Crossrail Place Roof Garden followed by Mudlarks’ sessions at the Museum of London Docklands. During his nap (long may it last), I get a wicked lunch out somewhere overpriced and fabulous, and he gets a super fun day out on the bus, the DLR and Canary Wharf itself. Heavenly!
  14. The local playground and other activities. I’m pretty lucky to live opposite Oxleas Woods where there is plenty of opportunity for exercise and a good run about for Rafe, but I do miss his usual haunts quite a lot. We had the local playground, or the one in Greenwich Park, which has loads of water and sand play and is super awesome. There was the soft play at Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre, and the ‘hard play’ at Ahoy! and Mudlarks. They really provide so much fun and a lot of interaction with other children – I’m sad for him! But also lucky he’s only 2! I’ll be back at all with a vengeance as soon as I can.
  15. Music class. We’ve been going to music classes at Charlton House since Rafe was 7 weeks old and I’m a big big fan. I’ve written about this in more detail on The Charlton Champion, but it was a great way to get out of the house and meet new people in the early days of the new mum haze. I’ve made actual proper friends through the class as well. AMAZING. And now we don’t live in Charlton, I super miss Charlton Park as well as the regular Monday routine.
  16. Nursery. I originally wanted him to start at 1, but I just didn’t want to let him go. ? By the time he was 18 months I was ready, and I could see that he was running and charging about enough to have a lot of fun in a new environment. Also, most of my mum friends had gone back to work so making mum dates was getting harder. We pushed it back a few months as Sam took a break from work to be a full time Dad (I went to work instead), and we started settling in sessions just before Christmas. This was again delayed slightly due to pesky hand, foot and mouth, but by the end of February he was really happy to be going 2 days a week, and he did not give one shit about us once he was at the nursery door. Sometimes he comes home covered in paint, it is brilliant, and I bloody miss it.
  17. Swimming class. We started swimming at 2 months as I had this bee in my bonnet about wanting him to learn to swim as soon as possible. It is ace, absolutely ace. I love ducking him underwater, I love him learning all the different techniques – even if he hates some of them, and I love being in front of him as he jumps in the pool at the beginning of the class. Half the kids do a standing leap from the side, but Mr Sensible always sits down first – here’s hoping for some nutty behaviour WHENEVER WE GET TO SWIM AGAIN. ?
  18. Commuting. It took me about an hour and twenty minutes to get to work before the Corona, and in that time I could get through an entire podcast, or even two a day if I really wanted to push the boat out! I could also use my laptop to do work or life admin during the 35 minute bus trip to/from the tube, and in the morning I would have a KeepCup cuppa too – exciting times! The ‘me’ time twice a week was excellent and I miss it. Hopefully another job will come to me soon, and at some point in time I will be enjoying a bus and tube ride to town again.
  19. Work. I went on maternity leave in March 2018 and went back to work in October 2019. I did and didn’t miss work, but I was ready to be something other than Rafe’s mum. I was proud of my earnings, and I miss financially contributing to the household. It has taken me a little while to get used to being a full time mum again, but we’ve settled into a routine now, and it feels good using this blog to mentally structure myself.
  20. My living room. A very ‘woe is me’ final point… we started re-doing our living room in February, and we had nearly everything done before lockdown. The final puzzle piece was a carpet order, and we took a gamble on the 12th of March as there was a 30% discount offer expiring that day. The gamble did not work out. No carpet = no living room. Grumble grumble grumble.

And if you made it this far… here is a picture of us in town.

Looking out at the Tower of London, 14th of February 2020