This time last year I was looking to welcome 2020 as a potentially great year not anticipating that we would have a mixture of tears and tiers. All four of my children had jobs and my two daughters were looking to move in with their partners and see what the future held for them. Meanwhile OH and I were beginning to start to wind down and spend more time in Corfu as our major responsibilities were finally over.
Well none of that happened as planned. One daughter lost her job in event planning the moment that Boris announced the first lockdown. The other daughter is still furloughed from her job in the travel industry. Our boys are working harder than ever to keep their businesses going. My OH has not retired so Corfu has been put on the backburner. So I look with anticipation and a certain amount of trepidation at the dawn of a new year.
I am under 64 with no underlying health problems. Should I add, ‘at this moment’, because if I finish off our third tin of Quality Street there probably will be some health issues. I am tier 7 for the vaccine – tier being a word I had never used so much until 2020. This means I may get my first jab in May 2021. My surgery sent out a text saying they have no vaccine at the moment and no idea when their next delivery will be so please stop phoning them. My OH moved up a tier on his birthday as he turned 75yrs on 21st December so for once getting a year older was something to celebrate. He is now Tier 3 for vaccine (we are living in Tier 4!)
Our children joined us just before Christmas in time for the big birthday celebrations. Two of them had already moved home when lockdown began in March 2020. However we had to take some precautions as the other two were coming from London even though they were the same tier as us.
It looked as if we were only going to be able to mix outside and so we built a Pergola with a heater, log fire, faux fur rugs and sofas. Our Alpine scene or Santa’s Grotto was greeted with great enthusiasm.
We welcomed girlfriends for coffee (and chocolate Baileys) and our children for birthday dinner (and more chocolate Baileys). The wind whistled around us but we were warm and Covid clean in our tent. We gazed enviously at our Tier 2 neighbours across the river, some 50 metres away. And then they too joined us in Tier 4. The skies opened and Storm Bella roared across the country bringing rain and floods. The partner of our eldest daughter contracted Covid though he wasn’t with us but she had seen him the day before he took his test so we were all nervous.
However Christmas dawned and we had lots of fun calling our friends on a Facebook Portal.
The river then rose and started to flood our garden and the boiler stopped working. The plumber came, masked and sanitised, but shook his head, said the gas pipe that comes across the river must be broken and went home. The washing machine then jammed just as I had stripped all the beds. Our handyman, not my husband who is not at all handy, went home to Ukraine in December. He has not been allowed back into UK (he built the Christmas Grotto). I was bereft as he is my strength when the river does its winter thing. He knows how to put the floodguards on the doors, move the boat out of the boathouse, lift the sandbags and generally keep us safe and dry.
The children are in the house whilst OH and I are hunkered down in our guest cabin at the bottom of the garden. Our view is one of a roaring, angry grey river which seems to reflect the mood of the country. Our daughters are running the house and not enjoying the work involved i.e. cooking and caring for 6 people. I say, “welcome to my world”.
Our day is made up of exercise, eating, drinking and Netflix. To be honest too much of all of these apart from the exercise. I have learned to live in a small space with my OH. It works but you have to be very patient and tidy. I lack the former and he has less of the latter but we have loved it. Though it is so hard knowing that our kids are here but we can only see them from a distance.
Meanwhile Grace and I have continued to work hard with Annabel & Grace and we have had, over the year, so many wonderful messages of thanks and appreciation. These messages have made it all worthwhile. If we can make one person smile or feel uplifted then it has been rewarding.
And we are here, as healthy as we can be, longing for better times but appreciating all that we have. 2020 has been a huge learning curve and I won’t forget it for as long as I live. I will be forever grateful for all those who have kept us safe. From my cheerful postman to the UPS delivery man who is still wearing shorts. I discovered Riverford Organic foods and every Thursday Sam has dropped a box in my garage. I have embraced elasticated waistbands, Crocs, my natural hair colour and length and the joy of my friends on What’s App video calls.
My New Year’s resolution is not to forget all that I have learned in 2020. I do not want to revert to our old ways where we take it all for granted. We must never take nature for granted and it should be respected at all times.