Pics and text contributed by Peter
Like most, this has not at all been the Easter I was expecting earlier in the year! It has now been over three weeks since I had the regrettable task of informing the group that we must cease all activities and encourage everyone to practice social distancing.
Some members might think that this was a good opportunity for me to put my feet up, as group Chair – we can’t get up to much if we’re stuck indoors, eh? 🙂 Well, that’s sort of true – the fun stuff of actually attending group walks and events have now been removed from my calendar, but daily life for me has otherwise continued. I and many others have been racking our brains for online events we can arrange with the group during the lockdown (Sunday night movie night is going down a storm!), whilst the general bureaucracy of the group continues (yes, we had our first ever audio-only IOG committee meeting!), trying to make sure that we reach out where we can to help people through these troubling times. I am fortunate that my day job has remained relatively unaffected – I simply work from home every day rather than going into the office. I am thankful that I am lucky enough to have that option, though it does mean I have yet to make much headway on all the jobs and projects I had high hopes to achieve whilst stuck inside!
My attempts to write up a lockdown day last weekend were stymied when I was forced to work both days, meaning the bank holiday weekend has been my best opportunity for me to write about something other than tapping away on a keyboard at home! It also coincided with a little known celebration – my birthday! I was absolutely determined that today should be different to the past few weeks, filled with group conferences, too much TV and a decided lack of Vitamin D due to my hobbit-like existence! I was all too aware of this sinking slide, having finished that book this week as a bedtime story via regular video calls to a friend’s daughter, way up north.
Unfortunately, I really didn’t have much to hand to change my lot – we’re only allowed out for a brief period of walking or running exercise, and otherwise need to remain indoors at home. My day started well – considering the circumstances: I received an excellent number of birthday cards and even some deliveries, which cheered my spirits no end. I resolved therefore, that if there wasn’t anything else I was allowed to do on my birthday, then at the very least I could wear whatever I wanted! It’s been a while, but I decided to dust off the Superman outfit I had in the corner and head out for a walk around Christchurch Park.
I probably slightly overstayed my allotted exercise time, but as I’d skipped some days prior I’m sure it made up for it as time off in lieu! The sun was out and I had a great wander around – several kids yelled, and I even got a toot from passing car horn. 🙂 There was an incredibly excited dog who was rolling everywhere and barely noticed me, whilst the squirrels were out in fine form in the gorgeous sunshine. A pair of magpies were cavorting, and clearly had not heard of social distancing!
I finished my outing by dropping off a hastily-improvised birthday gift for a friend who shares the same birthday as me. I think the surprise of having Superman deliver it outweighed the simplicity of the present!
Once I made my way home, I spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening on video calls. First with a French friend, currently residing in Switzerland – I was invited to join a very chaotic and noisy call with all her friends spread around the globe. The pair of us also share the same birthday and every year we race each other to see who can wish the other a happy birthday first. 🙂 I stayed for an hour trying to keep up with the whirlwind of languages and jumping in to throw in some of my own contributions where I could, before I signed off in order to join my own local group. Several of us got together, including my other local birthday buddy, to spend a few hours enjoying a virtual party. There was some initial confusion – we started on Facebook Messenger which most people have installed, but discovered that it only supports up to eight people for simultaneous video. If there are more people in your group, you have to look at using Zoom, which we figured out eventually. 🙂
I unwrapped my presents and cards as best I could on video and was gobsmacked by a huge delivery from Suffolk Food Hall that was dropped off early in the evening. I now have more snacks than I can manage for a month! 😀 I also blew out the candles on a specially-made gorgeous birthday carrot cake made by my wonderful girlfriend, the ever-lovely Ana. 🙂
All in all, I had an amazing day; given the restrictions we’re living under, it’s easy to feel uncertain and stressed when stuck on your own. Today I was reminded just what fantastic people I have around me, and that people do care – even if now it’s from the other end of a phone call. We have no clear idea how long it will take, but there will be an end-date when we can all meet up again … and I for one am eagerly looking forward to it!