Before starting my nursing training, I worked for a few months at the John Lewis store in Sheffield. At that time, it was named Cole Brothers and my role involved stocking shelves and being a general dogsbody in the Christmas Decoration section. The store was a landmark in the city centre and I remember meeting many friends and relatives at the entrance.
Every morning I caught the bus that seemed to race along the roads, wiggling across the moors before it slowed for the city traffic. In the evening, I shed glitter over its seats and aisles and no matter how often I washed my waist-long hair, those tiny shiny specs stuck like limpets.
We were a partnership, a group of employees who looked after one another and who genuinely loved working for a company that rewarded our loyalty. I loved being a witness to the excitement of shoppers as they chose their baubles and tinsel. It was a magical workplace.
The distribution of the bonus caused great cheer and even though I was a temporary employee, I took home my share.
The news that John Lewis is closing the Sheffield store breaks my heart. One more thing this pandemic has stolen. My memories of my time there will last forever.
In an era of limited travel and fear of new infections, I appreciate that it may be several years before I am able to enjoy tropical locations and therefore, I have used wallpaper to create the feel of a jungle teeming with birds.
Usually, my sense of decoration could be described as bland but Covid times have taught me that it is possible to escape the mundane even when I can’t travel beyond my locality.
If the cheery surroundings encourage my writing as well, it will be an added bonus.
The travel industry struggles to cope during the worldwide transmission of an unseen enemy and companies are having to find parking places for their ships and planes.
The beautiful bay between the Solent entrance and the entrance to Poole Harbour on the south coast of England is currently hosting 5 large cruise ships. They have been anchored here while they await better times for travel. Sometimes they power away, probably up and down the coast to give their systems a boost and a few days later, they return to their positions. Local cruise ferries have taken the opportunity to sail close, giving the tourists a fabulous view of these majestic ships.
Old Harry Rocks, seen in the photograph below, erupt from the sea off the Headland of the Purbeck Peninsula and mark the end of the bay. Standing high on the cliff offers a fabulous view of the ships with a backdrop of the sandy beaches of Bournemouth and Poole.
For several months, nearby Bournemouth Airport became a car park for large planes, the majority were British Airways machines, while they waited for the resumption of air travel. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a photo due to stopping restrictions but it was an incredible sight to witness our local runways crammed with jumbos, etc.
My memories of the Pandemic will be made up of these wonderful sights as well as the emotional upheaval and sacrifice. Someone taught me to write down 5 good things that happen in each day and this has been a great tool for coping in these strange times.
When I tell people that I have gone out for three lunchtime meals I realise that others are feeling less confident than I am about the ability of staff to protect their customers. In the UK it has been possible to sit inside of a restaurant for a few weeks but few of my friends have ventured out. I want to support the local businesses but am taking it slowly. My first outing was a wonderful lunch at The Jetty restaurant in Mudeford, Dorset. This restaurant is known for excellence and as you can see from the photo below, the views over Mudeford Harbour are outstanding.
The other two venues that I have visited are pubs serving food, one in Minstead Village in the New Forest and the other on the riverside in Stockbridge where I finally had time with members of my family who live in Oxford.
The three venues had different procedures but each felt safe. The staff were attentive and delighted to be serving customers once again.
It is such a pleasure to be enjoying the treat of having someone else cook. I always think other people’s cooking tastes so much better.
Near Dorchester, England there is a wonderful sculpture park developed by Simon Gudgeon as an outside gallery to exhibit his amazing work. Guests can visit by booking tickets for the day and recently I spent several hours enjoying the peace of wandering the grounds, contemplating the beautiful art and having time to appreciate the natural environment. Sculptures are situated around and in lakes and trees and there are many places to sit in reflection. If you intend to visit Dorset, this is a must see.
Weeks of restrictions on our movements have affected us all. Not far from my home town in Dorset is one of the main cruising ports in the UK, Southampton. It is capable of receiving the largest of passenger ships. They navigate the Solent Channel between the mainland and the Isle of Wight to reach the base at Southampton Docks.
During the Pandemic, these ships have laid empty except for the crew who maintain the essential systems. For several weeks, three of the ships have been anchored off the beach in Bournemouth Bay until their services are required once again.
The rise and fall of the tide in this area causes Poole Harbour to dry out at times, allowing people to walk across the wet sand and collect worms and other sea material. Kite surfing is a popular hobby giving spectators a colourful background.
I have two little granddaughters, one coming up to 3 and the other recently celebrated her 1st birthday.
The restrictions imposed by the pandemic are affecting them both and sometimes, this situation makes me worry for their future. It is not just the changes in the financial stability of the world nor the changes in our high streets that will impact on them.
It’s the lack of human contact and what that will mean for humanity. Children learn through shared experiences and touch. They naturally want to respond to other children and it breaks my heart to watch my granddaughter try to reach out to another child and then pull back in fear.
How will they learn to share? How will they shed this early learning experience and learn trust in their fellow humans?
I question whether the impact on social behaviour will be worth the isolation of children from their peers to protect older people from the disease. And yet, I am a nurse by background and appreciate the difficulties my former colleagues are facing on a daily basis as they care for Covid-19 patients.
No doubt, history will show whether Lockdown for the children has been the most sensible option for the humanity of the future.
Our lovely little high street in Westbourne contains many shops and cafes run as individual businesses. These owners have been badly affected by the Lockdown. I have waited anxiously while they remained closed, unable to sell their produce, and was frightened that my town would become a ghost town of boarded up shopfronts.
Today one of the coffee shops opened to sell their fabulous coffee and wonderful salads, sandwiches, and crepes for take away. The young owners had a baby just before the pandemic struck and must have felt their world was falling down around them. Yet, they remain hopeful that things will improve and they can grow their business once again.
I hope the local council will realise these businesses will not be able to survive with take away service only if there is nowhere to sit in open spaces. Putting chairs and tables in the open arcade and grass parks would encourage customers to spend in such places and keep them in business. Support for these businesses will sustain our community.
Our local airport is a gateway for carriers such as Ryanair and TUI taking passengers to reasonably close destinations in Europe and private aircraft. It is unusual to see jumbo planes sitting on the tarmac but with the grounding of so many flights internationally, some of British Airways planes are parked for storage in Bournemouth.
Before things start to get back to normal (or as we are told ‘the new normal’) I decided to drive by to see what the fuss is about.
Well, it is impressive to see these planes crammed in to our little airport and I had the added bonus of watching the NHS delivery plane take off.
The enforced time at home and in nearby open spaces should have dragged but goodness, the 1st day of June has arrived quickly. Maybe the time spent exercising outside has eroded more hours of my days than the spin class at the gym or maintaining communications with friends and family through online tools has resulted in more frequent contact: lengthy conversations as we try to compensate for hugs and the joy of presence.
On these hot weekends, daily exercise along the beach can feel like being in a pinball machine, trying to avoid social contact of less than 2 metres, so we go for a walk as the sun lowers for the night. The water is shallow in Poole Harbour and when the tide is out, it is possible to walk a long distance before sinking in to one of the channels. This adult and child enjoyed their evening stroll, making the most of the quiet waters of Lockdown.