Saturday, 23 January 2021

Week two of readers’ experiences of living under coronavirus lockdown II

Week two of readers’ experiences of living under coronavirus lockdown II

NICOLA TAYLOR, a baker with Lawlor’s The Bakers in Henley for more than 40 years, lives with her husband and two children.

SUNDAY is a day of rest and it is my only day off from being at the family business.

My work involves baking and generally trying to keep the bakery up and in the eye-line of the public via social media, creating something topical or fashionable and trying to persuade our chefs and customers to try something even more tasty.

This week, knowing that sales of poppies are struggling due to the coronavirus lockdown, I have been baking poppy cup cakes with all the profits donated to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

It’s Sunday — my day to walk with my friends, chatting and generally spouting about all sorts of nonsense while we trip over brambles, kick leaves and get a little muddy. But no, my one day of exercise and fresh air has been curtailed by the Remembrance Day service.

It was one of the proudest days of my life, to lay the poppy wreath on the town hall steps on behalf of the Women’s Institute.

The responsibility suddenly dawns on me at about 3.35am. I haven’t been out with proper clothes on for ages. Sombre black with crochet poppy and WW2 W.I. brooch “for home and country” seems a perfect choice for such a serious occasion.

I’ve been attending this ceremony since before it became popular, when it was seen as just for military personnel and old soldiers with connotations of glorifying war and celebrating victory over other nations. How times have changed.

The pared-down ceremony, which is being live streamed for those who want to attend but can’t due to new government covid guidelines, means we are due to arrive with our wreaths, place them and leave. No singing, not even the National Anthem. This is going to be a strange morning, possibly even more poignant than ever.

However, lots of people turn up to pay their respects against official advice and we sing God Save the Queen behind masks. I hear later that an ex-military friend was incandescent to be turned away from his local memorial, I’m so glad Henley didn’t follow suit.

• Sales of the poppy cup cakes raised £66 for the Poppy Appeal.

SARAH PYE is an artist who lives in Damer Gardens, Henley. Despite the second national lockdown, she is still inspired to work.

IT was a very wet and blustery Saturday morning and I decided that I needed to brighten up what was a very grey day.

This has become a bit of a cliché but it has been a very strange year this year, especially in the art world.

We have only had the opportunity to do one or two local shows recently and with the Government’s announcement a couple of weeks ago of a second lockdown, all the big autumn shows were cancelled too.

Not being disheartened by this new curbing of one’s opportunity to exhibit, there was more a knowing acceptance that this was the inevitable. There’s no point in being morose and negative about the situation, I feel I just need to get on with things in preparation for when we are allowed to show again, which we will and hopefully not in the too distant future.

I’ve felt myself swinging into autumn mode in the last couple of weeks, the change in temperature and slightly darker evenings not to mention the swirling leaves, mean the warm burnished oranges of a beech woodland seem to be foremost in my mind.

Although I am always drawn to the vibrant colours and light of a summer coastal scene or wildflower meadow, there is something cosy about hunkering down and perhaps slowing up a little for the winter months.

I have felt inspired to push forward with paintings that evoke a smile and take me away from the slight countrywide chaos and feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen next, which seems to surround us at the moment.

Despite the second lockdown, I find myself continually enthused to create new work. After all, life will return to normal and, when it does, I will be ready to embrace it once more.

LIS RANSOM, from Binfield Heath, charts the second week of lockdown in her village.

Monday, November 9

GREAT news — a vaccine will be ready before Christmas. Britain has a big order with American/German creators Pfizer. British Astra Zeneca vaccine not far behind.

Stock markets rise everywhere, shares in airlines and travel companies shoot up, but food delivery businesses and Zoom shares drop.

Wales lockdown ends for the moment, joins national rulings.

Fog clears, sun comes out.

Tuesday, November 10

VACCINE could be here by December.

NHS ready for vaccinations in care homes first, NHS staff, then elderly and so on into next year. GP surgeries might open seven days a week. Scientists say vaccine is 90 per cent effective. British vaccine only a few weeks off but will be slightly different.

Health minister says they will be “injecting hope into the nation’s arms”. Meanwhile, we are not to let our guard down. Mass testing to allow students home for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 11

ARMISTICE DAY. Prince of Wales lays wreath to commemorate centenary of unknown soldier’s grave at Westminster.

Village mystery: someone with nimble fingers has created a “Lest we forget” tribute with dozens of hand-crocheted poppies and hung it on the village phone box. Fabulous handiwork, everyone loves it, hunt is on to find and thank its creator. With no big event here, villagers pay their own tributes in groups in front of British Legion poppies.

Today, Britain passes 50,000 covid deaths, highest in Europe.

We do parish council and village flower show Zoom meetings. Show needs new chairman or, after more than 70 years, it may not happen again following this year’s forced cancellation.

Thursday, November 12

US president-elect says transition is well under way, but outgoing president still not given up.

Rumpus in Downing Street, Prime Minister’s top advisors shown the famous front door.

French conversation by Zoom: we finally discover how to extend beyond 30 minutes. Technical milestone.

Husband turns hand to wood work to finish kitchen cabinets left by carpenter last March.

John Lewis Christmas message is aired. It’s gentle but all the ads seem a mockery — there might still be no festive season as we know it.

Friday, November 13

HOPE it’s not too unlucky.

Beautiful day. Group of young deer in field, wearing dark winter coats, unconcerned about distancing, munching the new crop. Farmer won’t be pleased. They catch sight of me and spring away.

Church choir on Zoom for husband — singers daunted by performing solo to a screen, preparing for virtual Nine Lessons service on You Tube.

Go to garden centre. Henley traffic light, but lots of people about, all seem to be social distancing, many wearing masks. Supermarket very quiet.

More than 24,000 people on average catching virus every day last week. But vital R number is slightly down across the country, which is better news.

Saturday, November 14

PRINCE CHARLES is 72, but has to forego traditional salutes.

Covid test kit arrives for me and for grandson in Worcester. Rather daunting. Courier booked to collect completed test so will have to do it.

Pours with rain all day, start long-delayed kitchen decorating.

Diwali this year has to be celebrated at home and not in big family parties.

Masters golf gets going in USA — like the Six Nations rugby it has been moved from spring to autumn.

Sunday, November 15

WE’RE back in the study again for online church services.

Remote get-together with group of eight friends in evening. We used to meet regularly, now keep in touch on screen. We share same hopes and fears as we head towards the year end. A calendar arrives for 2021. Will we be rearranging that year too?

Breaking news: Prime Minister has been “pinged” by track-and-trace, must isolate at No10. Bad timing for his new life without advisors and for last-ditch Brexit talks. Says he is in good health and full of antibodies.

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