Tiers Before Bedtime: Creating Heritage Vol II - Part Six

Day 325: Monday 8th February

Another week starts! This is my first day back from a week’s leave (not much difference). I tiptoed into town in the snow this morning to unlock The Beaney for the Registrars; shovelling snow away from the doors at 8.30am! What a start. I followed that cold delight up with checking over both museums, so you have somewhere to come back to when you can… Someone needs to see the fresh paint job we’ve done at the Roman!

Just got home to find Laura has had a snow day!!! She can’t get the cats to go out in the snow though, can’t say I blame them really. Time to put the kettle on and have a biscuit – I have cricket to watch! England vs India test match…

Now I’m just waiting to go back in to work this afternoon to lock up The Beaney when the library are finished. I think Laura is making a stew for dinner, so there’s something to look forward to!

Oh, and I just booked in my next asymptomatic covid test for this week. If this snow carries on I might need to borrow some snow shoes…

Dougie Mann, Museums Caretaker

Ancient artefact

Day 326: Tuesday 9th February

Something that has kept me positive and active throughout the three lockdowns has been taking  part in Joe Wicks’ workouts on YouTube, in particular ‘P.E. with Joe’. 

Today has been no different. I woke up early and completed a Joe Wicks’ workout, setting me up for the day. I have to say that keeping a routine of fitness and dance classes has really helped me throughout this pandemic, as I have been able to have some sort of structure to my days. I have also been inspired to create workouts and dance classes for my parents to keep them active, as they have been working from home continuously since March 2020. 

We have finally received snow, and enough to build snowmen! Seeing this amount of snow has created conversation in my home, bringing back childhood memories of snow days. It really is the little things that are bringing us together and keeping our spirits lifted. 

I met up with my other half and went on our socially distanced walk through Canterbury, heading towards Chartham. This was very refreshing and peaceful, as there were not many people around. We came across a family of swans and saw very large icicles hanging from the archway of a railway bridge. 

I am also currently helping my sister complete self-tapes for online audition submissions for Musical Theatre colleges to further her training once she completes Sixth Form. This is very surreal, but it has been a huge learning experience, even for me as a professional performer. Today, we focussed on a Charleston-inspired jazz dance and put together the separate audition elements into one video to submit online. It has been very stressful, having to adapt her school tuition to online learning, whilst having to submit auditions with little guidance – I am very proud of her. 

I finish with an image of my feline friend, Mr Mo. I hope that he will bring a smile to your face!

Katie Reynard, Visitor Services Officer

Cat sitting in wash basin

Day 327: Wednesday 10th February

So much time to do so little! So much to say in so few lines! I woke up in a good mood. It’s been a rollercoaster of moods, kilos, dissolving family ties, new recipes, lots of cooking – I love it so much! Some emotional losses, but no one close to me has died since the pandemic started.

It’s been snowing heavily this afternoon and everything seems again to be covered in icing sugar! I’m cooking as I write these paragraphs, and the routine is perfectly tuned with chores, showers, cleaning and shopping for food! Even my calls – really, I only call my Mother, every other day – have become so important, in order to know what is going on with my family abroad. I’ll call her later!

I’ve streamlined what I do, when and how I do it, so I can enjoy a book in the afternoon, music and Netflix while cooking, and television after dinner with a nice drink! No, I’m not generalising and just telling an average day. This is it! They truly are really quite unremarkably similar.

My moods are not though. Any uncertainty about jobs, taxes or health can put a grey filter on my usually tinted glasses! But not today. I woke up in a good mood, and am optimistic that we’ll soon be back to our old routines, (in my case 3 different jobs) with the exception of going on a holiday. 

Until then, I am fortunate to have the company of my other half, Richard, and two “Lovebirds” that keep me sane. The house is big enough to lose ourselves in, and we tend to meet for dinner, usually our main meal!

Buon Appettito!

Gualtiero Nobili Vitelleschi, Visitor Services Officer

Snowy tree

Day 328: Thursday 11th February

After one of the heaviest falls of snow for years I woke this morning to a thick, pure white, perfect blanket across my garden. As I hugged my dressing gown tighter, I drank my first of many cups of tea whilst gazing at the most spectacular display of snow-heavy trees in Centenary Woods.

The sky was very heavy, assuring me that more snow would surely fall before the day was complete.

As I reviewed my appointments for the day, I looked at the date and did a quick calculation realising that it was 73 days since I had held and hugged my precious grandchildren. Not wanting to go into the day on a low, I forced my attention to focus on the business of the day and ordered myself to ‘get on with it!!’ The morning was spent replying to Council related emails and progress on cases for residents of my Ward (Herne & Broomfield).

I had a telephone conference with some colleagues and, before I knew it, that old enemy, time, had marched unaccountably towards my first virtual meeting of the day.

I then had 3 back to back meetings.

Fourteen of us met for the Herne Bay Councillors meeting. Quite unusually, we managed to get through all the points on our Agenda, so after a quick bite to eat I went into my next meeting. This involved talks with the Planning Dept representatives. 

Often whilst ‘attending’ meetings, the phone will ring or a text/email will come in which alerts me to a resident with a concern or problem. Today was no different, so as soon as the meeting closed I had to contact those who had left messages. Thankfully, today my residents’ issues did not take too long to accommodate.

On to meeting number 3, the monthly Parish Council Meeting for Herne & Broomfield. 

I am so glad I prepared my report to the Councillors a couple of days ago. I would have been panicking otherwise and madly scrambling through my diary to try to recap and note what summaries I could bring to them from CCC.

My diary has been quite light but I was able to tell them about the Holocaust Memorial Day service I ‘attended’, the arrangements for the Canterbury Inspirational Woman of the Year competition, the wonderful presentation I was invited to by RSPB and what they will be doing with the £1.1m they have been given from the Dream Fund Project scheme, and to remind everyone that Fairtrade fortnight is from 20th Feb till 6th March. I probably forgot a few things but my PC Cllrs know me well now!!

I had my supper about 8.30 and then caught up on a few personal telephone calls to family members. Then I set about noting my ‘to do’ list for tomorrow.

It’s 02.02am now and I am sitting here with yet another cup of tea reading a note from my husband which tells me my grandchildren will be on Channel 5 next week in the next two episodes of a series they starred in at Christmas. I can’t hug them yet or smother them in kisses but I (and the rest of the UK) can see them next Wednesday and Thursday at 9.00pm. Oh happy days!!!

Anne Dekker, The Sheriff of Canterbury

Illustration of grandparent hugging grandchildren

Day 329: Friday 12th February

The day started as it always does because every day is the same. But I did get to eat my leftover birthday cake (M&S Colin the Caterpillar because it’s the best cake) for lunch because there are no rules anymore… apart from the one to stay at home. 

Because my boyfriend had the day off work, we decided to make the most of it. After watching some of the US Office – I know it’s a bit late to the party but I’m very into it now, we braved the snowy weather and freezing temperatures to go on a walk, taking different routes to avoid the ice. 

I managed to get to the post box to post the cards someone ordered – without slipping over. I’ve been making and selling cards as one of my projects/little businesses since the last lockdown and it gives me some sort of purpose and fun while I wait for “the world to get back to normal”. 

After dinner we spent the evening playing some card and video games. I’m always put in charge of designing and naming characters and any sort of building in games. It was an unusually cosy evening. I ended up watching the Princess Diaries film late into the night because it’s one of those nostalgic films that make the world feel better and more normal. I have a terrible sleeping pattern now, a combination of lockdown and a partner who does shift work, though I suppose I have quite a long time before I will really need to fix it.

Emma Williams, Collections Volunteer

Birthday cards

Day 330: Saturday 13th February 

Today was a busy day for a lockdown weekend. My wife and I moved house a few weeks ago (yes we moved in lockdown, yes it was stressful), so every weekend since has involved a lot of cleaning, sorting and ordering furniture and accessories to fill our new home. That has been made more difficult by the weather this last week but has also made us incredibly thankful for the log burner this house has which has been lit nearly every day.

We began the day with a walk and coffee date. Strolling along the very cold and frozen paths through Westgate Gardens and further along the Stour, admiring the beautiful icicles that had formed underneath the railway bridge in particular. Walks such as this have been really important for us and key to us both remaining sane throughout this year. 

After this we went to our local garden centre to pick up firewood and got a few plants to decorate our home with too. The rest of the day was spent cleaning and sorting through more things we had yet to unpack and find a home for – particularly in the kitchen! 

In the evening, we once again lit our fire and made our lounge very snug to chat to some friends we hadn’t spoken to in nearly a full year. One of the few benefits of this new way of living, we’ve found, has been the opportunity to reconnect with friends like this where, if not for the normalisation of video calls, we may have easily slipped out of touch. Feeling closer to others while socially distanced does seem a bit of an oxymoron but it was a very enjoyable evening and overall a busy but restful day.

Charles Hall, External Development Officer

Wood-burning stove

Day 331: Sunday 14th February

Today is the first Valentine’s Day since the outbreak of coronavirus in Great Britain, and I have mixed feelings about it. I’ve loved my wife Janice for 30 years and we intend to celebrate with a candlelit dinner. Yet this year I find myself thinking about all kinds of love, and of loss. I think of those who’ve lost loved ones to Covid during the past 12 months for whom Valentine’s will feel strange or empty. The disease is so widespread that if you haven’t contracted it yourself you’ll still know people who have and some of them may have lost their battle. I have a flickering memory of an old friend who passed away from a Covid-related illness on Christmas Day 2020, the thought of which leaves me as cold as the snow and ice outside the window. But conversely, I think of other types of love which fill me up again with warmth; the devotedness of doctors and nurses, of schoolteachers, of carers, of council workers and charities protecting the vulnerable. The death toll is tragically high, though the survival rate is much higher. From the radio just now I discovered that 15 million people have had their first vaccinations in the UK. 

I take solace in simple pleasures this Valentine’s: playing in the snowy back garden with my bearded collies, watching football on TV, frying mushrooms and garlic, lighting two brass candlesticks I bought Janice many moons ago, opening a bottle of wine, devouring a three-course meal, settling down to evening conversation beside an open fire. 

Just before bedtime my mind runs to writing: editorial decisions regarding a forthcoming memoir, ideas for a new novel, and preparations for creative writing workshops I’m leading for the Kent Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Canterbury. Although the group meetings must be held online I’m grateful for the social interaction at a time of extended lockdown. I can’t remember the last time I shook somebody’s hand.

By torchlight I fetch an important collection of short stories by James Joyce from my writing den at the foot of the garden. Ironically, one of his stories is called The Dead, and ends with snow “falling faintly through the universe”.  As I’m locking up my office the torch beam catches hold of the healthy green stems and white faces of two snowdrops. They are protected from the harsh weather by the overhanging bough of an ancient tamarisk, and nestled alongside them are the peeping heads of crocuses. 

They say the big freeze will be over soon; the sun will shine for longer, the snow will melt, shadows will get shorter. Spring will spring.   

Andrew McGuinness, an award-winning novelist, memoirist, editor and fiction mentor living in Whitstable

Snow-covered garden

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Artefacts in exhibition case The Beaney Museum

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