Creating Heritage: A diary during Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Part Ten

Over the last year, I have had numerous requests from my team for me to write my ‘Talking Heritage’ blog, and unfortunately I have told them that I was too busy each time. Now, following a week that is sure to go down in history, I have stopped and taken the time to reflect.

My job at Canterbury Museums and Galleries is to preserve our City’s heritage and culture, making sure it is relevant and engaging to all. We spend time thinking about what and how we ‘collect’ objects that help uncover our history and tell our story, as well as which we might dispose of, so that we can make room for the new. 

In this time of uncertainty and unorthodox decisions, I have decided that instead of choosing an item to talk about from our collection that I will start a new collection. From today, Saturday 21st March 2020, we will document the everyday lives of our community as we pass through this point in time.

Michelle Moubarak, Museums and Cultural Programme Director

Day 64: Saturday 23 May

Wow! I can’t believe this is week nine already! We’ve come so far! All I can say is well done to the world for following the rules to help kick this virus’ butt!

Today is a Saturday and a day I’m working as the Food Hub Coordinator and this will have been my thirteenth day in total working at the hub. I’ve got a team of hard-working hub volunteers to rally round and work towards packing food parcels for our vulnerable residents. I couldn’t do this job without these guys.

Working at the hub certainly keeps you fit, as you’re on your feet all day lifting, talking, meeting and greeting drivers, more lifting, stock check, drinking tea, keeping staff morale high, keeping the hub tidy, more lifting, receiving food deliveries and there are probably more jobs than I can remember. I find it all very rewarding, particularly when we hear the comments and feedback from those who we send deliveries to.

I’ll be working on my normal job tomorrow, as Digital and Communications Officer at the council, which keeps me busy for the rest of the week. But I’ll do this after a regular circuit training zoom session with my crew from Herne Bay Rowing Club.

I’ve realised that staying in touch with those who mean a lot to you and also sticking to some sort of daily or weekly routine certainly helps!

By Emily Noyes, Digital and Communications Officer (Food Hub Coordinator – Covid 19 Support Service)

Woman following a workout video

Day 65: Sunday 24 May

I’ve so far scratched 65 marks in my makeshift cell that is my working from home desk. 65 days! It’s no wonder I shaved my hair off and recorded many a Tik Tok because I’ve essentially cracked. So far during lockdown my role has been so varied between working from home on essential risk work, packaging parcels at the food hub and doing site inspections. It’s hard getting into a routine but I’m thankful that my varied role lets me get out and about.

Today I worked at the food hub, normally I would moan about working a weekend but without any football or pubs every day now rolls into one. The hub has got quieter over the weeks but it is still rewarding knowing the service we are performing. I managed to get away with only working half a day today which left the afternoon to sit in the garden with a few cold ones and browse for a new fishing rod which I can hopefully use at some point before Christmas.

By Steve Richardson, Facilities Manager (Food Hub Coordinator – Covid 19 Support Service)

View of the sea with fishing lines in the foreground

Day 66: Monday 25 May 

Woo hoo, today is a bank holiday which means I have the day off, so made the most of it by having a lay-in, usually, I am busy working on the back office of the Community Hub, ensuring it is staffed and dealing with queries from our call handlers where there is a concern for our most vulnerable clients.

 After breakfast, my husband and I decided to go for a country walk along the back woodland areas of broad oak through to the university. One positive to come from lockdown has been finding so many beautiful walks on our doorstep. We would never have found these walks otherwise as we would have just driven to the coast and walked there. Today was extremely hot and it was lovely going through the woods in the shade and seeing all the lovely bluebells. On the way, I received a call from the Community Hub asking if I could help with a query and had a lovely chat with our Call coordinator Mike who was holding the fort and ensuring local residents who are shielding were still getting their medication and food packages.

 Our house is pretty busy and we currently have three adults and a teenager working from home, so it was time I got myself a new desk to work out (the 3rd one purchased during lockdown). I had tried to avoid getting one for myself but realised I needed to have a little corner just for work, so I could manage my work-life balance and ensure I didn’t keep logging on at night as my computer was always accessible.

 After this, we wandered to the local garden centre to buy some plants, as we are spending more time in the garden it has been nice to plant some colourful plants. After lunch, my youngest daughter Gemma who is 13  and I planted the seeds and vegetables in the garden, and then managed to have a relaxing afternoon lazing in the garden.

 The other positive to come from lockdown, as my husband has been furloughed and I am still working is that he has been making all the dinners and tonight he cooked up a duck stir fry, which was really tasty.

 Finished the day curled up on the sofa with my two daughters with a nice glass of wine and watching gossip girl on Netflix (as requested by my daughter, we are trying to watch it all during the lockdown, and are only on season two so we have a way to go!). 

By Alison Small, Policy and Partnership Advisor (Staff and Volunteer Lead – Covid 19 Support Service)

Bluebells on the forest floor

Day 67: Tuesday 26 May

Today is the last day of my long bank holiday weekend – it’s the Queen’s official birthday so I’ve been given an extra day’s holiday. Unfortunately any chance of a lie-in gets kiboshed by my cat, who delicately jabs a paw at my face at half past five.

I take the opportunity to escape my (lovely) family and have a morning entirely to myself at my favourite place in the world: the beach. It’s near enough empty, so there’s plenty of room to sprint down the shingle and hurl myself into the sea. Before lockdown I could talk someone’s ear off about all the sport I was doing; since then I’ve missed my teammates terribly and eaten a lot of cake.

A café on my walk home is newly open for takeaway service, and I can’t resist the novelty of buying a coffee to warm up. It feels a little bit naughty even though it’s officially allowed now. I take a minute to vaguely worry about this reaction until a man calls from across the road, desperate to find out where I got it from.

After lunch, I meet an old friend at the park, a picnic blanket set between us to keep our distance. She had a baby last summer – I used to rock up at her door with banoffee pie, though today I’m empty-handed. I can’t quite believe this is the same child, he’s grown so much. He can stand on wobbly feet and has two teeth; my friend has to keep scooping him up so he doesn’t crawl too close. It is brilliant to catch up in person, to be able to keep the flow of conversation without my internet cutting out. We lose track of time and I realise later I’ve got sunburn, but it was absolutely worth it.

By Coralie Clover, Assistant Curator at Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and Queen’s Regimental Museum

View out to sea from a stoney beach

Day 68: Wednesday 27 May

Today has been particularly strange. To be fair, every day is strange at the moment but today is my eldest son’s 18th birthday and it has been an oddly low-key affair.

As a family we have been avoiding people because several of us have pre-existing conditions that make us more vulnerable to COVID-19. This has made preparing for a big birthday marginally more challenging. We bought balloons and decorations online, which would have been great but the y on birthday seems to have escaped in the post.

We ordered several cakes from several supermarkets over several weeks but it appears cake is on many people’s minds and so they cannot be had for love nor money. Well at least, for money anyway. Hubby has bravely made one which is quite a feat as flour is also in short supply. I dare not ask how he acquired the flour. Presumably, he knows a man.

Three presents have not arrived and there has been some electronic transferring of money from relatives rather than actual presents. Mind you this is what he wanted, so he is happy.

The boy himself is waiting to hear about A Levels and university. Since being told there would be no exams he has given up rather. I understand it is hard to be motivated when your future is hanging in the balance and there is little you can do about it.

Still, one day, hopefully, things will feel a little more normal. We will be able to go out again and then, when we can, we will have a party and celebrate 18 years and more. We look forward to that day.

By Amanda Monk Peak, Teacher.

Happy birthday banner with balloons

Day 69: Thursday 28 May

I drive to work from Whitstable to Margate, and since the easing of the Lockdown rules last week I notice the roads are getting busier. I miss having the A299 to myself!

Once I arrive at the NHS rehabilitation ward where I work, we have a quick handover from the night staff to the day staff, then we assist patients to get up for breakfast.

No visitors have been allowed onto the ward since it opened last month, so we try to facilitate Zoom calls for our patients to see their loved ones.  I have two of these to organise for today. For most patients this is a really positive experience, though some people with dementia can’t understand why their relatives are on a screen.

All of the discharges from our ward are complex in some way, but now there are extra difficulties thanks to Covid 19.  Today for example, there is a gentleman who cannot be safely discharged to live alone unless a lifeline button is installed in his home.  This would allow him to summon help if he falls, but installation of these is currently suspended.   

Most difficult of all are the patients that are ready to go home but have been tested as Covid positive but have no symptoms.  We have two today who could be discharged, but both live with relatives (one is their husband, the other their son) who are shielding due to their age or an underlying health condition.  These patients will end up staying with us far too long!

When I get home at 4:30pm I have dinner in our garden with my husband and the kids.  Our Lockdown evenings are lovely as we aren’t rushing off out anywhere, and the kids aren’t exhausted after a day at school.

By Ruth Steel, Occupational Therapist 

Sign outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Day 70: Friday 29 May

Day…not a clue of lockdown. What day is it, is it the weekend? I have been on furlough since the beginning of April, the days all kind of blur into one but I can normally make out if it is a weekday or weekend by my husband busily working but today I am confused, I am sure it is Friday but he is not working…ah, he is using up some holiday! 

We decide to make the most of this and the lovely sunshine and try to find a quiet-ish area of beach to walk along. We head to Hampton and walk along the boulevard to Swalecliffe. The sun is shining, there is a breeze and there waves are lapping at the shore. I have missed the sea greatly over the last few weeks, it is where I head to when I am happy, sad, tired, stressed…and I have been most of these things lately. 

We pass people on our walk (socially distanced of course!) and say hello, people seem friendlier these days, with a smile and a few words. We even managed to get a cheeky Mr Whippy ‘99 which felt incredibly decadent! 

The day was rounded off with a drink or two – or maybe more in our garden! This is our new date night routine, making sure we don’t just sit in front of the TV every day. 

It took a few weeks for all this craziness to sink in, but now things seem ‘normal’. My days are spent doing some serious work in the garden (I am even growing vegetables which I have never done before!), sorting out the house and garage, reading Agatha Christie, Michael Connelly and something a bit different for me by Haruki Murakami, as well as video chatting with friends and colleagues. I am even attempting to learn Italian….arrivederci! 

By Danielle Sellers, Collections Manager, Royal Engineers Museum

River flowing into the sea

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