Family

This weekend I finally got to see my parents again after 19 weeks! Living a wee bit apart I don’t see them as regularly as I would if they were just down the road. A busy life (and work) get in the way, so it’s not uncommon to go a month without seeing them. We met up last on a family birthday, a lovely gathering where I also saw my sister and her wee family. The next scheduled get together was on Mother’s Day weekend; sadly it never happened, the COVID situation rapidly evolving, my sister and I decided to postpone our meeting, only to then find out we’d have been left with no option as the country very suddenly went into lockdown. The next few paragraphs aremy account, written at the time, but unpublished as emotions were too raw all around.

19th March: Lockdown is Imminent

My journey began at roughly 4 am today. I spoke with my parents last night, both now in their seventies and, touch wood, healthy with no significant underlying conditions. They were suitably pragmatic about everything, already having realised that the chances are our planned meeting on Saturday would not go ahead. However, technology was frustrating; we didn’t manage to FaceTime as I’d hoped and I later sent an e-mail to Dad hoping he’ll maybe download the WhatsApp app to enable future face-to-face communication. I felt positive after speaking to them so I’m not sure why, at 4 am, I crashed.

Waking up, I went to the loo, went back to bed and then the tears came. Proper gut wrenching sobs and an underlying worry about Mum and Dad. With them not being immediately nearby, who will support them if they become ill? Who will do their shopping if they can’t get out? What if something awful happens and I never see them again?

22nd March: Happy Mother’s Day

Today, I’ve woken feeling more positive and perhaps am starting to find my new ‘normal’ (a phrase we’ve now grown to detest). Phoned Mum to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and was pleased to find both of my parents upbeat, if a little hacked off in Dad’s case about being recommended to ‘self-isolate’ as he’s 70 something. He’s questioning why he should be told what to do when as a 70 something who’s taken care of himself he probably stands as much chance of fighting the virus as someone 20 years younger who hasn’t bothered. Fair point I suspect.

Keeping in Touch

We adjusted to life in lockdown, not really having a choice. I’m aware of people visiting family and waving through windows but the distance (and emotions) involved ruled out this option. Instead, the phone became a more regular companion and finally, thanks to my sister’s remote technical support, Dad got his iPad sorted out and we were able to FaceTime again. Seeing people on screen is such a blessing. I do wonder how we’d have coped without technology during this time.

31st May: Phase 1

The introduction of Phase 1 meant little for me. Still being too far from my parents to visit – too far to go without using the toilet – the waiting game continued. The one blessing was that my sister, being closer, was able to come for a socially distanced visit with my niece. Sitting in the garden blethering to them was wonderful!

Both my sister and brother-in-law celebrated birthdays during lockdown. There was no shared cake or celebrations outwith the immediate household; the best I could do was make fudge and sing a socially distanced birthday song from the street! I still owe you both a present!

18th June: Phase 2 Begins

We all waited with baited breath to find out what the announcements would be on Thursday as Phase 2 began. While others were holding out for a refreshing beverage with friends in a pub garden, my priority was seeing my family. The hope that not only would we be able to travel, but we could also meet indoors and go to the toilet was too much to bear!

Sadly we were all disappointed, the announcement being a bit of a damp squib when compared with the phasing plans shared online. I appreciate there are many variables but still …

It made me question whether it was worth travelling a long way to sit outside for a cup of tea. This period of time has taken quite a toll on mental health, as has our new way of working. I’m tired and in need of a break, probably just as I am most summers, and this led me to think that maybe I should just hang fire on visiting. It’s been so many weeks, what’s another two?

However, Friday evening came and although I hadn’t managed to get on top of all the work that needs done I did feel differently about life (more upbeat) and recognised that I both needed a break and wanted to see my family.

20th June: Together Again

Yesterday the sun shone. I headed up the road in my car, my sister and niece in theirs, and we all congregated in the garden with Mum and Dad. It was a joy to see them both in the flesh, to chat together as a family, and to catch up properly after so much time apart. We even went out (in our respective cars) to enjoy a picnic by the local beach. Sitting in a socially distanced circle the laughter and chat flowed and it was a very special few hours.

Driving home I reflected that having had the luxury of technology to maintain contact, it’s only when I see people that I realise how much I’ve missed them. I must remember this as it’s easy to get caught up in the bustle of life, sending a catch up text here and there and feeling like that’s maintaining contact, while in reality there’s no substitute for real human interaction. It definitely won’t be so long until our next catch up!

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day Dad! I hope you enjoy the Jam Shed – anytime after 4 pm is an acceptable time to crack it open. Your card will arrive sometime next week, I’m sure! Love you (& you too, Mum) x

December Yoga

This year started with a daily yoga practice in January, vowing to reconnect mind and body. Although at times a thought to get on the mat, I never regretted the time I spent there, always feeling good for the practice I engaged in whether it be Ali’s taught class at Run 4 It, or a home practice with Adriene. (https://yogawithadriene.com/calendar/)

Somehow life once again changed the course of time and I lapsed in my daily practice as February turned into March. Before long the racing season was upon us and alongside work and marathon training I did less and less, finally stopping my practice altogether.

I intended to restart last month (November) but that never did quite happen, despite downloading the calendar from Find What Feels Good Yoga (https://www.fwfgkula.com)

So, today my practice begins again. The journey has started and I have newly spent 37 minutes on my mat (time flew!), surprised by the tightness I felt in my muscles and the renewed feeling of sitting more upright and feeling a little straighter by the end.

I can’t promise to commit daily, and ultimately it makes no odds to you if I do or don’t, but I’m going to try. Find that headspace and look after my body.

What (if any) is your practice? Do you have a go-to app or channel?

Peterhead Prison Museum

A week later than planned I returned to visit Peterhead, this time with cash, to go and see the Prison Museum. It was worth the wait. Have you not been, I’d recommend it as it’s a very interesting visit.

From the outside the prison is somewhat foreboding, and chatting to the ‘Guard’ on entry he told me that many a school party arrived loudly and in good spirits to leave more subdued at a later point.

Armed with my headset I went on to explore the former prison on a thought provoking tour.

The audio guide describes in detail aspects of prison life. I was very engrossed when I turned to see this man!

Peterhead Prison Museum
All alone on the wing, this guy gave me a fear when I saw him!

Having heard lots of discussion around ‘slopping out’ at Peterhead continuing long after the process had been abolished elsewhere, it was only today that the implications for staff dawned upon me.

Peterhead Prison Museum
Slopping out

Lots to see …

The cells – no matter what your thoughts are on prison it’s difficult to imagine being cooped up in here!

If you’ve not been do go – a worthwhile experience. I’d be intrigued to see how conditions have changed in the new prison and wonder what impact it has on rehabilitation and positive outcomes for offenders. Thoughts on a postcard please!