Day 318: Monday 1st February

There are no leaves on the tree opposite the cottage. There is a slight eerie mist lingering in the distance that looks like it is rising up from the grass. A carpet of frost glistens across the green but it looks like it is going to be a bright day as the sun is starting to shine.

Since I last wrote a blog, I have a new role in the museum due to the recent restructure that took place. I am now a Visitor Services Officer.

As we are now in Lockdown 3 I look forward each day to going out for the daily exercise walk. I have always enjoyed going for walks – especially long walks. As a child my mother would often take me, my sister and brothers on long walks in the Wirral, usually from Parkgate to West Kirby or Hoylake. I remember saying “Are we there yet ?” a lot!

When we came out of the first lockdown, I decided to do a walking challenge and during the second lockdown I decided to do another. I could not travel anywhere to do a long walk during the second lockdown and had to do the challenge locally. Luckily, I live close to a seafront that has a long promenade!

I decided to do the challenges to keep myself active and motivated as I was comfort eating and snacking too much! Doing the challenges was not just about receiving the medals, it was about feeling motivated. I would pace myself daily whilst doing the walks and would usually do the same amount of miles daily. Sometimes on the walks I would find different footpaths to walk down.

My fiancé recently bought me a camera similar to his (an early birthday present) so we can take photos on our daily walk as photography is a hobby of ours.

We recently decided to put more lights up in the backyard of the cottage as seeing the lights cheers us up on cold winter nights.

Sandra Bytheway, Visitor Services Officer

Day 319: Tuesday 2nd February

I’m not going to lie, this year hasn’t gotten off to the best start and my mental health has taken a blow. My family had to isolate over Christmas due to one of us testing positive and after that, my father then became ill. My anxiety and stress levels were through the roof and I have been very down – I even had a breakdown during a team meeting. Thankfully, I have such supportive friends and work colleagues who helped me through it, and I’m pleased to say I’m in a much better place now.

Recently, I was asked to help out with a project for the Baedeker Blitz in Canterbury, so I’ve been working on that from time to time. It’s been interesting to research a part of Canterbury’s history that isn’t necessarily talked about much but is still important. I’m reminded how, because of it, we discovered parts of a Roman City hidden underneath the city, which led to the Roman Museum being created. It just goes to show that even in the darkest times, there can be some good that comes of it.

One bit of good news I had – I signed up to Wattpad last year so I could do some writing. One of my books won third prize in Fantasy, but also won Best Blurb and Best Opening Chapter in that category! To say I was well chuffed would be an understatement! Writing has been my main hobby during this lockdown, so it’s great to see people like reading it.

Right now things are pretty good for me. If I’ve learned anything by this, it’s that I need to speak out more and not bottle things up so much. Also, maybe stop eating wine gums all the time!

Dan Wright, Visitor Services Officer

Day 320: Wednesday 3rd February

Like so many others, walking has become my refuge from the stresses of the pandemic. Oare marshes are beautiful and full of wildlife at this time of year, and I’ve never visited them so often before. It seems to me though that during this third lockdown, the respite that nature has been giving me is less about getting away from news of Covid-19 (as worrying as that has been), and more to do with how quiet it is. I can’t hear any cars, there’s very few people around, and I feel an unexpected and welcome surge of relief every time I get far enough for it to be so.

I’m all too aware that as this last year has gone on, I’ve become more anxious and withdrawn, less patient, and tend to alternate between being nervous around people, and irritated when I encounter people who won’t walk in single file. I’m very excited though too, as I learnt recently that I’m going to be an auntie for the first time, but then that is strange as well because my sister lives in Cardiff which seems a long way away at the moment.

I’m not used to having such a volatile mix of emotions all at once, but then again there is no rulebook for getting through a pandemic and I’m comforted by the knowledge that everyone has experienced similar feelings at one point or another, and so we really are all in this together. Small things matter too, like the smile I constantly have while learning to knit a tiny baby hat, and this just reminds me that it’s the small things that will get us through this.

Jemima Watts, Visitor Services Officer

Day 322: Friday 5th February

So, I injured my knee in the summer of 2019.

I was taking a gym class called “Combat” when it happened. We were jumping and kicking, I landed on my left leg and it bent in an unnatural angle, the knee cap was sticking out. Reflex and instinct kicked in. I straightened my leg then pushed the kneecap back into the place by myself. No pain. Adrenalin is an amazing thing (pain came shortly after though).

Anyway, my knee is much better. I can bend it more than 90 degrees and do not need a crutch anymore. I now appreciate simple things like being able to use both hands when carrying shopping bags, sitting without needing to stretch out the leg (especially on a bus), taking my dog for a longer walk, etc. I’ve also become more aware of people with disabilities. A small thing like people giving me a way helped a lot when out with the crutch. I would like to be one of those who are considerate to others. One early morning, when I was still using the crutch, I fell and bashed my side really hard while walking my dog, Hana, and could not get up. It was before 6am and no one was around. Luckily a delivery driver saw me in trouble and came to help me stand up; he could’ve ignored me but he didn’t.

Even after all these troubles I still look forward to going back to the gym (I will be very careful!)

Kumiko Yamada, Visitor Services Officer

Day 323: Saturday 6th February

I have written a poem called ‘Bored of being Bored’ which sums up how I feel today under Lockdown.

It may resonate with others who are feeling the same right now, but I have to stress that how you feel today may be completely different tomorrow when lockdown has lifted.

Bored of Being Bored

I’m bored of being on my own
Feeling alone
Stuck in my home

Every weekend the same
Nowhere to go
Life without aim

I’ve had it up to the eyeballs of death
Give me a jab
before I take my last breath

Want to dance in the sun
I’m not the only one

Throw my mask in the air
Live life without care
The past year has been too much to bear.

I cry for those departed
Leaving so many broken hearted

Tomorrow will be a good day
But now even Captain Tom has passed away

Yes we are the lucky few
Waiting patiently in the queue

for a vaccine tried and tested
in which our hopes are now invested
and those who rapidly progressed it
to offer it to you!

Summer will be here at last
and this nightmare, a thing of the past

Courage and persistence we must find
then to history this viral tragedy
will be consigned.

As darkness falls, I jump into my car and race to get my food shopping. I fill up my car with petrol. Anxiously, I look around the deserted petrol station I have been trying to avoid busy places. There is an eerie stillness in the air, and one of the busiest route ways in and out of Canterbury is empty. It feels like everybody has gone. 

It reminds me of the 1971 post-apocalyptic film called the Omega man, starring Charlton Heston. It was about the last man on Earth who survived a deadly virus. There were shots of him driving through empty streets in the city looking for signs of life and picking up supplies. He was not completely alone for there were a group of zombies who roamed the streets at night hunting him down.  

Something about that 1970s sci-fi film has fascinated and terrified me. This evening I feel like the Omega woman, the last survivor looking over my shoulder through the foggy stillness. Some of those past sci-fi films have an uncanny ring of truth. 

As I return to my car the imaginary zombies shrink back into the shadows. The real zombies of today are those who claim the coronavirus is a hoax and refuse the vaccine. Are we not living in a post-apocalyptic era right now? and things are far from over.

There are supposed to be 400 strains of coronavirus. The foggy deserted streets of Canterbury remind me that this is just the beginning. Driving past the Norman castle I imagine what it would be like to be under siege, aiming the flood lights down at a baying zombie mob. 

A boring life can play havoc with the imagination. So it is a good opportunity to tap into your creativity. Many writers from Canterbury probably lived boring lives and were able to create more exciting ones for themselves through their fiction.

There are a lot of good films and box sets to catch up on for people during lockdown. No need to be bored!

Janette Eyres, Visitor Services Officer

Day 324: Sunday 7th February

At last the snow we’ve been promised materialised. The sledges I’d dug out of the shed 3 weeks ago had a purpose!

I woke my sons up (they are teenagers) and cajoled them into appropriate clothing, which was tricky with the image conscious one!  We made the trek up to the best slope, a white washed 25 minutes away, marvelling at the beauty of snow balancing on copper beach leaves and the rows of white stripes down the long, lean trunks of the birches and beech trees as they braved against the prevailing wind. 

The hill was buzzing. Lots of familiar families and friends, finding their own space to stream down the slopes at alarming speeds. The views were so uplifting, so different, as even my beautiful environs have become monotonous to my never ending repetitious walks over the past 10 months. 

Dogs ran through everyone and little ones screamed.  Then the pro’s arrived – snowboarders, in Kent, in all their garb. Wow, it really did feel like we were somewhere very different. What a joy!

Joy is definitely the feeling this snow has given. Exhilarating exercise, lots of laughs and fun, but overall a complete change. Our village and hills, our clothes and activity and the stunning views are all different today.

I’m so grateful for this stimulus. I find motivating myself to do anything beyond my functioning duties harder and harder.  I’m so pleased that there is more snow to come. 

Hang in there everyone, change will come.

Take care of yourselves and those around you.

Trudi Field, Visitor Services Officer