Friday, February 26, 2021

Guest post

Today I am delighted to begin a series of guest blog posts. These guest posts will all be from blog readers who live far away from here (the Derbyshire Peak District) and will focus on the reader's life during the pandemic.

First up here's Het, writing from Cornwall.

Well, it turned out to be a year we’d all rather look back on than look forward to. For me, it has been a tale of two halves, feeling imprisoned by living in London, then liberated by moving to Cornwall. Throughout, I have never been more grateful for the constants which frame my world – a partner who is a pal, and pals who have been partners in extending a virtual hand.

For the first half of the year, we pulled up the drawbridge and hung out in our London flat. By all normal measures, a fantastic place – spacious, light, central - and blessed with balconies to take in the wonderful view down the river. Those balconies were our saviour – as we hung over the ledge, watching the birdlife carrying on as normal. Canada geese nesting on an upturned boat became an early focus - who knew that standing on one leg is all about heat conservation?


New habits in lockdown formed, such as getting showered and changed for the evening, to break up the day. And making sure weekends felt different. A young local restaurant which had only been open for a few weeks when lockdown started, began a weekend delivery service. It rapidly became a welcome treat to look forward to – delicious food made by someone else!



While my husband monopolised the study and worked on getting a bad back at my desk, I took over the lounge: moved by the lack of scrubs for frontline NHS staff I became a manic seamstress in my sweatshop of machinery and ironing board permanently set up. Rolls of colourful polycotton arrived every week to be cut out, sewn up and despatched to different hospitals across south London. I had become one of the thousands of home sewers who collectively made over 1.5m sets of protective clothing during the early months of lockdown. The young nurse who initiated and led the effort was rightly recognised in the New Year’s Honours list, while the personal rewards of being part of it all were acknowledged by many. They are hard to describe – I absolutely loved feeling useful and increasingly capable.



Moving to Cornwall in August was a liberation of body and soul. At 70, it may feel a little late to be buying my first shortie wetsuit and making efforts to get into the sea at every opportunity – but it redeemed the summer and created lasting memories of joy. Going out for walks without fear of meeting too many people along the coastal path, taking a picnic lunch to the beach even when the sun didn’t shine – we realised anew what pleasure there is in simple things.



Since the autumn, I have been busy again – this time, doing an online course in Psychology & Neuroscience of Mental Health, at King's College London. For a non-scientist, this has taxed my little grey cells to bursting point – but I now have a smattering of knowledge: yes, a dangerous thing! I didn’t previously know just how much genetics affect who we are and how we think. Or that the proteins produced by our 26,000 human genes are not ‘fixed’ but respond to influences such as diet, exercise, stress levels etc. A recent study of 100 healthy individuals showed that only 49% of individual ‘proteomes’ remained stable over the course of a year. So, it is well worth investing in activities which offset the many ‘insults’ (I love that technical term!) we all endure. Overall, my new knowledge has given me new respect for the intricacies of human biology - and the wonders of the brain.


So, I will be treasuring the onset of spring, starting out in Cornwall and eventually leading us back to London. I will also be looking forward – to everything.



Elisabeth said...

What a beautiful and interesting post. Thank you Sue for using your blog to help us learn about and connect with others x

Sue Hepworth said...

It's a super post, I completely agree.
Monday will see another guest post.

Unknown said...

Lovely to hear from Heather - my neighbour in London and much missed in this last year!

Unknown said...

Hi Het!
Such a treat to hear from you. Thank you for sharing yourself.
Little Red Hen
Aka Wendy

Anonymous said...

Greetings Het.
Thank you for a glimpse into your world.
I have yet to advance to having an overlocker and had to do the scrubs sets I made with the overlock function on my sewing machine (which took Forever ! ) I’m told you either love them or hate them.
Looking forward to another instalment in the future maybe?