Day 332: Monday 15th February

I’m sitting in the upstairs room of a delightful house in rural Devon. This is my current lockdown abode. The wind is howling and the rain lashing against the window. I’m looking out over the lawn at a valley beyond which is a very faint outline of Dartmoor. It is currently shrouded in mist and rain.

This image is constantly changing. Only the other day Dartmoor was covered in snow and looking very bleak and imposing. Fortunately, my vista precluded the raging fires that recently blazed out of control for a short period of time. At night, the sky is littered with stars and the silence is often broken with the hooting of a couple of Tawny Owls. During the day time, it’s common to see low flying buzzards as they scour the sky for prey. Occasionally, uninvited guests wander onto the lawn (see picture below).

Meanwhile, I continue to work on my history blogs which some of you are aware of and embrace my new role as a school governor at Palm Bay Junior School. Life played out on zoom, Whatsapp and the mobile phone continues unabated. Is this the new norm? Still, I’ve got my first vaccination in 10 days and spring is round the corner so maybe things are finally beginning to look up.

Andy Edwards, Canterbury Museums and Galleries Volunteer

Day 333: Tuesday 16th February 

I’ve been working from home since the first lockdown last March.  Each day is pretty much the same. I started at 8am today and then had my daily google meet with Tricia, my manager. It’s something we did in the office and we’ve continued it through lockdown – only now we’re more casually dressed!

I’ve tried to make my home office comfortable with plants, fairy lights, and a board with pictures of my colleagues, postcards, train and cinema tickets. This reminds me there was and will be life again outside of this room. I do miss the banter though. Now we have to make an appointment via google to be spontaneous and it’s just not the same.  

As part of today’s duties I took meeting notes through the ether. It’s great because I can turn off my camera and microphone, doodle during the dull bits and get a glimpse inside other people’s houses!  

The snow has now gone but my walk was cold and in the rain. I saw two dog walkers and one jogger. We avoided each other with the skill and grace of the Peggy Spencer masked formation team. You learn to smile with your eyes don’t you.  

So that’s pretty much my day. Having been confined to barracks, I have reintroduced myself to the sewing machine which has churned out a fair few face masks. I’ve also been brushing up on my ukulele skills and bought a mouth organ which literally left me breathless.  

Each day I write in my journal. Most days it’s just stats and streams of my consciousness but I’ll include a copy of this today. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.

Jackie Banham, PA to Deputy Chief Executive Canterbury City Council

Day 334: Wednesday 17th February

The most exciting day of the year, you would expect it to be Christmas wouldn’t you?

You guessed right – except for one thing.

The most exciting day of the year so far; feels like I am a kid all over again. The butterflies in my stomach; expectations of grandeur, tinsel, turkey, Santa, reindeer and…..

Prosecco – flood my imagination (I’m now a sophisticated adult!). Yay Christmas day!

Well, the most exciting day of the year so far, feels exactly like Christmas.But it is not Christmas day, yet I know it feels like it. I know what to expect. I know what I will be unwrapping. I know all this gift has to offer and more.

The sleek, stiff, sides invite me to peel back the packaging, invite me to lift the lid. Invite me to tear open and peer beneath the thin layers of polystyrene wrap. Invite me to enjoy the peace and quiet of a morning which has been long forgotten amidst the mayhem of Covid’s tiers, Covid’s lockdowns, Covid’s breakdowns, Covid’s mental, emotional, spiritual and physical meltdowns. Covid separates us; masking our mouths, muting our sounds. A virus intent on exploiting all of us ‘til we’re completely worn down.

The most exciting day of the year so far, feels like me and mine are included.  

Today I nearly forgot the Black Lives Matters Mantra; resonating deep within, I nearly forgot the aching, longing for freedom and equality. Today’s gift nearly pacified the sorrow of my ancestors whose constant nag at my soul fuels my sojourn for justice. The call momentarily made me feel as if my children were a part of the promised tomorrow I have only ever dreamed about.

The most exciting day of the year, so far was when the school loaned my children laptops!

Natalie Mbunga, Ethnic Minorities Independent Council group member

Day 335 – Thursday 18th February 

I woke up early this morning, did some emails and stared at the rain outside. I wonder if my garden will stop looking like a muddy barren wasteland soon? I am so lucky to have a garden and I can’t wait for things to start growing again. 

Today I actually drove to work – it was a joy. I even made myself a tea to enjoy on the journey! I met my colleague, Craig, at The Beaney to look at some of the collections we will be displaying for the Becket exhibition in May (see image). As well as items from the museum collection there will also be objects and artwork loaned from the British Museum, Arts Council Collection, Canterbury Cathedral and Kent University. The exhibition has been delayed for a year but we are quietly confident this year it will happen! 

I worked in the gallery surrounded by the Rupert Bear exhibition. It feels like The Special Exhibitions Gallery has been patiently waiting for visitors, for children to laugh, play and listen to Rupert Bear stories in. I felt a bit sad thinking that my colleagues’ well thought out plans and hard work to bring this exhibition to fruition may go unseen. 

We discussed when the lockdown may end. This conversation has replaced the standard ‘weather’ conversation. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce on Monday 22 February the plans to bring us out of lockdown. Slow and steady seems to be the intent but we will know more soon….meanwhile our exhibition clock is counting down, time is running out for Rupert but Becket is standing by!

Mitch Robertson, Programming and Collections Manager

Day 336: Friday 19th February 

Another lockdown day, another check of the weekly family timetable on the fridge to see what sort of manic juggling is required. The blue and pink colouring of the timetable does not make it any more fun! Luckily I have this afternoon off so that my wife can deliver an online training event while I look after our daughter, so that simplifies things.

I am working on a project to move about 200 of our collection items back to our store and spend some of the morning planning and finalising the risk assessment. After that a quick online catch up with my line manager, Mitch, about directions we should be looking to take our Learning offer, particularly the digital potential. Like everything else in life, the pandemic makes it very difficult to plan ahead for this.

During the afternoon I take my daughter for a very wild and windy walk, then we play music together (for those of you imagining a quietly delightful orchestral interlude: this was similar only in a drum banging, untuned guitar twanging kind of way!) 

Whilst cooking tea I listen to the news with particular attention to non-Covid related items as these are either depressingly tragic, annoying, repetitive or all three. I learn things that are utterly irrelevant (Prince Charles wore a grey suit to visit his father), or odd (the military dictatorships have facebook pages!), but suspect that none of it is really good for my wellbeing. The weather, however, suggests that we will have sun at the weekend which would be a relief as we could all use a little Spring at the moment.

To round the day off, my wife discovers a work reminder that I wrote in our cat’s bed! No idea how it got there, but oddly it does say “Speak to CAT” – how was he to know I meant Canterbury Archaeological Trust? I hope he wasn’t too disappointed not to be consulted.

Craig Bowen, Collections and Learning Manager

Day 337: Saturday 20th February

Today I did very little and had a lazy Sunday! Had a long lie in followed by lots of online retail shopping (most of which will probably get returned, as always!) I probably should have gone out to get some exercise and air, but I was lacking enthusiasm and tired from the week, so thought I’d make the most of having a house to myself while my other-half worked the weekend shift. Managed a run on the treadmill mill though so not feeling totally guilty!

Borris is due to make an announcement tomorrow on the route out of lockdown, and set out key dates and a plan for when everything can gradually reopen. I am really hoping that whatever is announced will mean I can meet up with a small group of friends within the next few weeks, even if it only allows outdoors in public spaces. As much as I love my husband and my cats, I am looking forward to seeing some different faces..!

Really noticed today the temperature has gone up a lot this week (from heavy snow to double digits!) and the evenings are staying lighter later. It feels like Spring is almost in the air, and the change we are all desperate for is just around the corner.

Holly Buggins-Eaves, Marketing and Audience Development Manager

Day 338: Sunday 21st February

A couple of grey squirrels visit our garden. They are usually welcome here (unless they dig out soil from my pots in search of those forgotten hazelnuts, or take up residence in the attic without the landlord’s permission..). I often see them from the kitchen window, hanging upside down from the apple tree and eating sunflower hearts destined for birds. They are kleptomaniacs and wily (although they would probably say resourceful and shrewd). We have a squirrel feeding station where we leave a “chipmunk / squirrel mix”.  To answer your first question, I have never seen a chipmunk in the garden! The squirrels do still like to use the bird feeder, so to encourage them away, I’ve placed a few walnuts and pecans in their own feeder. They must have a sixth sense for delicacies because they almost immediately appear! Lately, they don’t seem to come out in pairs – does it mean a new litter? Great! I only wish they had red fur… 

Anything else to report on? Another surprisingly warm day (I took advantage in the only way the current situation allows, and the washing was dry by the late afternoon!)

In the news today: one third of the adult population have already been vaccinated (hurray!)

I’m finding that we’re spending more, because trips to the shops feel like little mini-holidays…

I wonder what the Prime Minister will say in his lockdown roadmap speech and what life will look like post Covid. Will we ever be allowed to shop without masks?!

Anna Cudnowska, Visitor Experience Manager