Day 304: Monday 18th January

I was awoken today by Radio 4. I’m not sure what it could be about waking up to hear the current state of the world that manages to motivate me to get out of bed, but I’m not questioning it.

I am currently on a kind of flexi-furlough, so only needed to work a couple of hours today.  It was long enough for me to tick one thing off the ‘Working From Home Bingo Card’: a video call with technical difficulties. I’ve lost track of the changes since the start of first lockdown, through closure and reopening, redeployment and role changes. I have mostly tried to take everything as it comes, and in many ways I have so far been relatively lucky, and am grateful for this. Nevertheless this year has been incredibly draining, and this moment feels the worst and most uncertain, but hopefully the vaccine will soon start having an impact, it is supposed to be darkest before the dawn, I guess.

In my last blog entry I mentioned my weekly virtual quiz with my friends.  This is still going, though has become a little more sporadic. After work I got around to writing my next quiz round. It’s been getting harder to come up with questions – I hope one day to be able to attend a quiz in a crowded pub, and only having to worry about answers!

There’s been a lot that hasn’t been possible in the last year, for example the concert band I play in hasn’t been able to rehearse since March. But I have tried to ameliorate where I can. In July I used the pennies saved from not going anywhere to get myself something I have thought about for a long time: a digital piano. So for me this has at least been the year that I started to make up for a decade of lost piano practice.  This fills the remainder of my afternoon today.

I have struggled to make time for reading recently. Partly because I like to read most when travelling (usually train journeys), which has not been possible of late. But also very much due to the endless hours of online bingeable TV and film close at hand. I attempt to finish my book in the evening, but only manage a few chapters. I think I’ll count that as a win.

Joshua Dack, Front of House Team Leader

Day 305: Tuesday 19th January

So much has happened since my last diary entry over nine months ago: a tier alert level system was introduced across England, thousands of demonstrators across the world protested for Black Lives Matter, Democrat Joe Biden became President-elect of the United States, Christmas was effectively cancelled for most of the UK as stricter measures were introduced to help stop the spread of a new COVID variant, a Brexit deal was agreed with the EU after months of negotiations, and COVID vaccines begun being delivered as quickly as possible across the world. 

And yet, it simultaneously feels as though so little has happened. I have become increasingly familiar with every small detail in my home, the same walls I have been staring at each day. I convince myself today will be the day that I start exercising at home, but decide my loungewear is just too comfortable. Instead, we walk to my mum’s house and wave to her through the window, grateful she lives so close. We continue our walk through local farmers fields and woodland, almost feeling like we are rambling through a Thomas Sidney Cooper painting. The sun is shining, nature is magic, and it’s Donald Trump’s last few days in office. We return home to indulge my lockdown skill of making fresh pasta and as we settle in for the evening I say to myself, tomorrow will definitely be the day I start a home exercise. 

Charlotte Halsey, Visitor Services Officer

Day 306: Wednesday 20th January

Hi folks, it’s been a while since my last entry. I’ve been keeping busy with various different activities since this new lockdown started. I haven’t been able to ride my bikes because the advice from the government says I can’t, so I’ve been polishing away instead, I have a battery tender that maintains the correct level of charge in the battery and I start the bikes up every two weeks, or so, to get the oil flowing, but riding them is the best part of ownership and I really miss not being able to.

I do a shop on a Friday morning at 7.15am. I leave the house and head for Morrisons in Wincheap, I like to get there before too many people have arrived as I believe this lessens the risk of getting the virus. Even so it’s quite busy and I spend an hour and a small fortune there before heading home for a cup of tea.

I love to cook when I can. Living with my parents, it’s tricky as mum loves to cook too. She has many traditional recipes and tries her best to teach me. I’m great at roasts and paellas and we have many cook books and trying out a new recipe is great fun too.

Work wise I’ve been catching up with my e-learning, I try to do one each day, it’s very interesting and great not having any distractions. I keep an eye on my work emails and join the online meetings when I can. It’ll be great to get back to work when it’s safe to do so.

I’m coping well in this lock-down and I’m looking forward to having my vaccination when the time comes, as my parents are in their 80’s they have had their jabs and feel very much relieved.  

Dito Perez, Visitor Services Officer

Day 307: Thursday 21st January

Waking up I feel a lot better than the previous day. This week has been a roller coaster! I slept better, some friends had organised an online event the night before which had ended quite late.

My dad’s 80th birthday was on Tuesday and the celebratory video we finished compiling the day before had been a great success. The highlight was a personal message from John Challis – Boycie in Only Fools and Horses. The courier had come up trumps and his present had been delivered the evening before, completed by personalised cards sent via an online service. He was a very happy dad!  

Later in the day he and mum had to have asymptomatic COVID tests at the Sidney Cooper Centre. The Gurkas running the test centre apparently broke into a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ upon noticing his birthdate on the paperwork!

The builder arrives to start repairing my house where a taxi ploughed into it one night (months ago). He decides he needs to summon a structural engineer and promptly leaves. I keep busy menu-planning and compiling our online grocery order waiting to hear….good news – the tests are negative.

I forward dad’s video to family and friends that featured in it, everytime I watch it I feel uplifted. Life is very up and down for everyone at the moment.  

Helen Dodds, Visitor Services Officer

Day 308: Friday 22nd January

At the moment I wake up and ask myself ‘what day is it? I do still set my alarm most days but on the odd occasion that I don’t, I have two feline friends who let me know it is time to get up.

In the first lockdown and in this one I have tried to keep to a routine, having been furloughed from both jobs. Three mornings and two evenings a week I do exercise classes on zoom. I only have my instructor and myself on screen. If I watched what everyone else was doing in the class I would have given up a long time ago.

Technology has also meant that I have been able to continue with my Spanish classes. My Spanish teacher moved to Spain in February 2020, and by the magic of zoom we still meet up every Thursday evening. If this pandemic ever ends, my classmate and I hope to visit our teacher and practice what we have learnt.

A couple on my road and I have also started a ‘meals on foot’ scheme. It started when they made a large batch of a dish and offered me a portion. So I started making things in return. I am not a particularly adventurous cook but have started experimenting and they are my guinea pigs. They don’t seem to mind. So a couple of times a week one of us is running up the pavement with a hot dish in hand.

In case it sounds like I spend a lot of time indoors, my sister got a jackapoo puppy in May and we meet up for a walk every Sunday. Billie is a lovely little dog, energetic and very entertaining.

I have managed to keep myself entertained during lockdown but it will be good to get back to normal and physically see and chat to people.

Lynn Sahathevan, Visitor Services Officer

Day 309: Saturday 23rd January

Looking back, the first national lockdown feels like a lifetime ago. I find myself thinking it wasn’t even that bad. It was shocking, new and scary but the spring sun was shining then and it all felt less overwhelming than how it feels now that it’s the new normal and old; less scary, despite all the new variants, because the vaccine’s day is approaching. But have you seen that slate of grey steel that’s been the sky recently?

Being furloughed has its pros and cons. I am able to rest more, however there’s more time to pay attention to what goes on outside our door. That’s probably why we have started a sci-fi movie marathon and we’re reading only the best P.G. Woodhouse has to offer (hardback editions of course). 

It’s a long-term patience game and losing our heads now is not worth it. We made it so far, we can wait until the magic potion gives us immunity. In the meantime, it’s nice to video-meet colleagues to catch up and share our everyday, even if small and common, stories. After all, that’s the lesson this ‘experience’ has been eager to teach us.

Sarah Agus, Visitor Services Officer

Day 310: Sunday 24th January

Today I woke up at 7am to a beautiful pink sunrise shining through my frozen bedroom window. I’ve been waking up this early for about a week now, in an effort to be more productive and have more hours of sunlight; the long dark early evenings have been starting to feel so repetitive. My sister and I took our dog, Gus, for an early walk while the ground was still frozen. She’s supposed to be at university but hasn’t been allowed to travel back because of the lockdown, so she’s training to be a vaccinator here instead. The ground was still frozen in the fields as we walked; bright sunny mornings make such a difference to everyone’s moods compared to the rainy grey days we’ve been having.  

I spent the afternoon outside in my art workshop pressing linocut prints. I’ve been running a small business from home since October selling my drawings and prints. Having this set up just as we went into the second lockdown has been so important for me as I get up every day with things to do, whether that’s to package and post orders or make new prints. I’m so grateful to have this distraction, so much so that I almost forget we’re in a lockdown until I catch the news at 10pm. Sometimes I feel guilty for being able to enjoy working on my art during lockdown, it feels bitter sweet remembering why I’ve been given all of this extra free time. 

In the afternoons I stay on the phone with my partner and we chat while we both work. He lives in London and we haven’t seen each other for a while. I know it’ll be a long time until I can see him again, so we’ve been phone calling a lot, and it’s almost like we’re working in the same room together. It’s been a lovely sunny day and it’s just getting dark now, but still freezing outside. I keep thinking it would have been a lovely day to have a walk on the beach, but the lockdown guidelines say we can’t make unnecessary journeys, so for now I’ll just have to wait. 

Amy Hey, Visitor Services Officer