Sunday, 16 May 2021

Week four of lockdown diaries featuring advice, rambles... and an apology

Week four of lockdown diaries featuring advice, rambles... and an apology

MILES POPEK, 15, lives in Vicarage Road, Henley, and attends the Mary Hare School for the deaf in Newbury. He has written a piece titled: Loneliness, Isolation, and the Importance of Having Great People Around You.

MANY of us would never have predicted a time where we would be stuck at home, with most of our everyday freedoms stripped from us to help stop the spread of a killer virus.

A lot of us would never have imagined being barred from seeing our friends, our loved ones and those we hold dearest.

But, for some of us, lockdown was just like any other day, some of us (socially) never noticed any difference to their lives (except, of course, the working from home).

While, for some of us, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, loneliness does exist — regardless of whether or not we’re in lockdown. Nearly nine in 10 young people in Britain experience some form of loneliness in their lives.

As an introvert myself, I found the first lockdown to be okay. One important thing to know is the difference between being lonely and being an introvert.

An introvert is a personality trait, in which you generally enjoy time alone. You’re not into small talk and you prefer a smaller social circle. Being lonely, on the other hand, is when you feel completely alone — like you have literally no one to confide in, to open up to.

The first part of lockdown was all right for me. I watched some great films, I watched some great shows on Netflix and I played one of the best video games of all time. But, towards the end, while I wasn’t feeling lonely, I did feel that I missed people.

Most of my time at Mary Hare up until lockdown was spent in my bedroom, with nothing but my own thoughts and my craziest daydreams. I look back at that and I realise that the reason why I found lockdown so easy was because I was doing it already.

So, one of the things I was very much looking forward to when year 11 started was getting back with people. I told myself that I wasn’t going to spend this year as a so-called “shut in”. But then this lockdown happened. Now we feel more isolated and alone than ever. Our limits had already been tested last year. Could we do it again? Yes, we can.

All we have to do to beat this lockdown is one simple thing. Reach out to people. Reach out to people and find the good in things. We must remind ourselves to stay connected with each other. It’s the only way we are going to beat the isolation of current affairs, but also the isolation within ourselves.

Another way that we could beat this is to remind ourselves that there is also good in this world. After all, a famous wizard once said: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” It’s true.

Joe Biden has now been sworn in as the new President of the US. More than four million people in the UK have had the first dose of the vaccine. But you should also look forward to the things that you can achieve once this is over.

You could try to (please) be on time for school. You could try to give a heartfelt compliment to as many people as you can every day. Or it could be just trying out a new hobby. But the one thing that I recommend you all do, starting now, is to find your best self.

We all have the best, amazing, brilliant selves within us. Some people have found it and to those people I say good on you. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart. But to those who haven’t yet found that wonderful and amazing spark, I say this: You already have the key to unleash, release and embrace your best self. You just need to unlock and open the door.

CARRIE WEBSTER, retired, lives in Twyford.

EXCITEMENT! Huge beautiful snowflakes drifting from a sky full with snow seen from my cosy sitting room. I wrapped up in fleeces and ventured into the garden and luck was with me as I finally photographed a redwing feeding on ivy berries on the highway’s boundary trees.

For many years I have tried to photograph them on my walks across local fields but they have always been too far away in among fieldfares, so today I am thrilled — and from my own doorstep.

I do get to see wildlife on every walk as I like to stand and stare and am quiet, enjoying some special magical moments of me and a wild animal within a few feet of each other.

Last November, I saw a muntjac’s bottom with its tail erect as it leapt over a fence into woodland — he wasn’t in the mood to stare at me.

Further up the track I came across several roe deer — I heard the boy’s antlers first as he was scratching them against a tree trunk. They didn’t see me so I had a good long look watching them mooch around the trees, nibbling as they went.

I also heard an owl call out — quite eerie, yet wonderful to hear all of a sudden. I wanted to record his next hoot and waited for 15 minutes or so with phone ready but he/she must have flown off or dropped off back to sleep. I heard a tapping against another tree along the track but I couldn’t see who was doing it, perhaps a small bird like a nuthatch, tree creeper or woodpecker looking for a tasty morsel.

On one of my sunny winter Hambleden Valley walks last November I came across a film crew on location for a Sky Atlantic/Amazon Prime production of a third series of Britannia. I was told it is set in ancient Britain with a clash of Celtic tribes, Romans and druids.

It was exciting to see their machines pumping out mist to waft across the valley floor for a scene of two young druid maidens in enormous flowing capes and their hair looking wild and wonderful. On one side of the valley was an enormous tracing outline of a man’s image holding a stave — such a great deal of work to be done safely in these times of covid-19.

Walking out of Hambleden, there was a sprightly man with his shirt sleeves rolled up putting long wooden thin stakes into his front garden. I asked why and he explained he was marking out his dahlias — just 200 of them. He digs up 20 per cent of flowers to take cuttings for next year. He also has 300 plants in his back garden. He said they are excellent to cut and last at least three weeks indoors. Last summer I did see his beautiful blooms of different colours and styles — stunning.

Another walker stopped to chat, saying he walks up the valley every day, only living a short distance away. He tells me there are hares to be seen. He went on to say it may be boring to some people to walk the same path each day but he sees something different every time.

A young farmer was lifting his electric fence and moved his rare Hampshire down flock of sheep to another field. They seem a hardy bunch. I do enjoy seeing sheep, they always look up to see who is coming and some chat back to me, very obliging.

Another time and place sheep had been moved on to fresh pasture and they were very noisy, greedily chewing on fresh grass, heads down and weren’t in the mood for a chat even though I was. I found a new path through woodland for a lunch stop, sitting on a tree stump. I sat with an open view of fields towards the River Thames and a pair of buzzards appeared for a brief perch on a tree top behind me before silently flying directly over.

On a local walk were some alpacas nibbling away in a field; fat ducks were having a lie down on top of a shed roof enjoying the morning sun, then some goats gathered around their barn, maybe waiting for their breakfast. One had jumped up on to a picnic bench for a clearer view of me.

After seeing a black metal witch on a broomstick above a garden gate, I saw a lone footballer practising keepie-uppie. Further along a little group of goldfinches was visiting seed heads for something tasty. They weren’t keen for me to watch them and flitted on ahead of me.

Take time, stop and stare and revel in nature’s delights — enjoy.

LIS RANSOM’S lockdown diary brings us to the end of a long January. Spring beckons.

Monday, January 25

BEAUTIFUL cold, sunny morning, snow still crisp. Try to identify animal footprints to see who’s visited overnight. Put welcome note through new neighbours’ post box, we can’t even call to say hello. Parish council meeting on Zoom. Next steps to a neighbourhood plan for village future. Normally we’d organise a public meeting.

Late night email from Guernsey: our family is in isolation because of a case in local nursery. Case numbers increasing.

Tuesday, January 26

RECEIVE invitation for vaccination by text: disappointment, it’s a scam.

Arguments between EU and UK manufacturer over deliveries of British vaccine after European production site falters.

Go for walk, roads and footpaths iced over, even dog sliding.

Impeachment of ex-president starts in US. Extraordinary. Riots in Holland over imposition of curfews.

Wednesday, January 27

NATION digests saddest statistic: more than 100,000 people have died from covid-19. Later in the year there will be a national commemoration, says Prime Minister.

Schools will not return until after half-term. Our Worcester physio mum desperate as school has closed again and she must use precious annual leave to look after the children. Her patients will suffer. Meanwhile, lockdown continues, probably to
mid-March, a year almost to the day since this diary began.

It’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

Thursday, January 28

ENO meets NHS: English National Opera singers help post-covid patients breathe freely again. Really beneficial.

Chelsea Flower Show, postponed until September, will showcase dahlias and vegetables instead of roses.

Olympics organisers determined to carry on, even if event has to be a bit different.

Buy first daffodils in supermarket.

Worcester grandson demonstrates cooking skills — under supervision. His brothers say it was delicious but not sure what it was.

Friday, January 29

EXACTLY one year since first two cases of covid were confirmed in the UK, in York. It would be another two months to first UK lockdown.

Extremely wet weather, corner of the field is a lake, ditch flowing fast. Lawn is a bog. Lovely hellebores appearing.

Finish painting parts of kitchen in new colour scheme. Hope I don’t change my mind again.

Find Guernsey granddaughter’s missing sandwich box. It’s full of tiny lamp posts all wired up. Wonder where they’re destined; soon find out.

Saturday, January 30

MY mother’s birthday; now belongs to her great-granddaughter in Guernsey, aged four today. Real party cancelled but family meets online. Sparkly unicorn stickers and fairy cakes — wish we were there.

EU needles UK manufacturer over vaccine efficacy and deliveries, closes and re-opens Irish border. Unedifying.

Grandson delighted about dinosaur footprint found by toddler in Wales. It’s been there unnoticed for 220 million years.

French artist suggests people paint the view from their lockdown windows. Brilliant images.

Sunday, January 31

ONLINE church service celebrates Candlemas, 40 days after Christmas. We’re now looking ahead to Easter.

Captain Tom Moore is in hospital with virus: whole country willing him to beat it. Nine million now vaccinated. New cases falling slowly but steadily. Flu at 130-year low.

The end of January. Routines, that tell us which day it is, merge confusingly from week to week. Eminent physicist explains lockdown alters perceptions of time passing. Glad it’s not just me.

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