Just like that, it’s over.
No more mornings at the gates.
I wasn’t allowed to take a photo and that’s quite fine as your mam would prefer to draw you anyway.
I’ll remember more that way.
But I would like to know who stole the years from me.
The last year in particular was a huge heist.
It’s a bit hard seeing a whole stadium full of football fans shouting for their teams on the television yet you can’t leave the house because there’s been a positive Covid case in your year at school.
Last week of school before the summer and it’s back to online learning with the cats.
Today on the menu, AstraZeneca part two.
Part one was four days of feeling a little rough and a sore arm, not much to get concerned, I grew no second head and disappointedly I didn’t develop an affinity with anything Microsoft.
I drove to the same building as I originally went to for part one, a small community centre, one way in and one way out. I waited 5 minutes before being ushered to a chair where a trolley was moving up and down the line of waiting people. One to inject and one to ask the questions.
Are you well?
Are you allergic to anything?
Whispers in my ear…Are you Pregnant?
My enthusiastic shaking of my head went on a little too long.
Fifteen minutes of waiting and wondering will this make a difference. Will enough of us get the vaccine? Will it work? Truth is we will have to wait and we will have to hope that it will. I feel very small again, insignificant in the bigger picture.
I got my phone out and ate melted sweets from my glovebox.
There are drop in clinics running this weekend for currently the youngest portion of the national Covid vaccination program, the eighteen year olds.
Millie had her text through a few days ago notifying her she could attend one of these clinics.
She had to take a photographic identification so we dug out her passport.
I drove down with her to the enormous film studios on the outskirts of the city, it was quite something driving into it, lots of run down industrial units colonised by flocks of noisy seagulls.
We parked up and she put a mask on and joined the queue with lots of other young people. Red stripy tape and orange bollards, they all stood apart without being asked. Some on their own, some with mates, some with parents, most on their phones probably checking in with a nice selfie and a hashtag #gotstabbed
Our children have had many vaccines in their lives already, this one felt different. Probably because of it’s newness and it’s immediacy. The other vaccines as babies you knew there was a slim chance of them getting the said diseases. This one is different isn’t it?
I waited an hour in the car watching other parents in their cars, watching the shuttle bus pull up bringing more young people. It was busy.
Millie texted me while inside, in her words:
There was no daylight inside, the building was really big but the ceilings were low and everywhere was white..
Corridors were white too with small windows in where I could see people sat inside. Lots nurses and doctors walking around in their uniforms often wheeling trolleys with large computers on and stacked up carts with the medical supplies on.
I sat in a waiting area next to another girl (well 2 metres next to her) and we chatted about stuff. When it was my turn, I was taken through to a station and they asked me some questions about if I was well. Then I received the injection and waited for a few minutes to make sure I was feeling fine.
And then out she came, clutching an information sheet and asking for lunch.
The council weed killers were out last week spraying down the walls and pavements to get rid of the weeds.
Most unfortunately, it poured down right after and washed most of it away judging by the explosion of colour between the cracks and the gutters.
The smallest little flowers, easily ignored by big feet but loved by little bees and insects. I never really noticed myself until I was drawing on the pavements last year during lockdown. They grew through discarded masks and broken bottles.
Last year, because of the pandemic, we had less spraying and as a result, the most beautiful wildflowers grew on the pavements and the gaps between the old walls.
Beats all the grey any day.
Four days back in school.
One positive Covid test in the year group and it’s back to isolation for the whole of that year and back to online learning.
This is very hard, this is very frustrating. We understand but it’s not easy.
Masks have been handed out to each school child to wear. Shops have free masks in their entrances.
Hand gel in every pocket, mask in the other. Don’t forget your car keys, your phone and your mask and know the year you live in.
Covid is here to stay.
Late last night I had my first shot of the Astrazeneca’s Oxford vaccine for Covid 19.
Got my little card with a date and a batch number on it for when I need my follow up dose.
Hope in a little vile but with so much media opinion.
When it came down to it, just quietly administered with small talk and a smile.
Twelve hours on, just feeling tired and a little peaky, nothing more.
The march of the dandelions and my dog is as relentless as the flying masks in the spring breezes.
The sun is coming back…well now, in a minute, as we say.
The first invitation for a vaccine has landed on our doormat.
Millie and her classmates are testing for Covid 19 twice a week before school. They do it themselves. For the record I have tried a test to gain some empathy for this process.
There will be sneezing and retching.
Do not touch the fuzzy bit of the swab.
Do not let the dog touch the fuzzy bit of the swab.
Do not let the dog touch the test.
No silica gel is not the liquid.
Did I mention do not touch the fuzzy bit of the swab?
Enjoy your day at school.
The cats love home learning, piles of paper and warm laptops.
Makes essay writing a challenge but I have it on good authority they have never missed an assembly.
Our lockdown restrictions are slowly starting to lift. We can stay local, schools are opening next week on a gradual slow return, more people are receiving the vaccines and Covid infections are for now, very low.
This three months of lockdown has felt an awful lot longer. Two of mine are taller, one has got into college and one dog has grown gangly legs.
Feels like spring is coming and with it, more changes.
Not sure really, it’s a strange dog, lady creature clutching milk bottles and dressed in pyjamas. Blinking at the bright morning light and scowling at a passer-by for daring to look at her and her two dog heads peaking out of her legs.
The schools in Wales are starting up for the older children, staggering the return until full time education resumes after the Easter holidays. They have been learning from home for three months this time. It’s been challenging and lonely for them, the lack of interaction has been hard.
There will be years ahead when we will see this play out I think.
Summer catch up school brings a look of sheer horror to my three’s faces. I can’t imagine there will be much enthusiasm at the prospect of that.
Covid infections are now at levels we saw in October 2020. The vaccination program brings me hope we will see normality of some sort and a return to leaving the house very soon.
Nearly a year in a new captivity, a new world of masks, home learning and fear of getting close.
A year of extremes.
A year that screens became the window to the world.
A year of superheroes in blue.
A year that saw my children grow out of their shoes and I didn’t need to replace them.
A year of insomnia and stars I didn’t know existed, early morning breath and bird song, dogs racing through discarded masks and gloves.
A year where the doorstep and the sky outside felt too big.
A year we are still here, lucky to continue, reluctant to move forward for fear of leaving behind that which we’ve lost.
It’s the art of making things look funny when really I’m hating every minute and would rather be sipping espresso martinis on a beach in Barbados with sunburn and giving no hoots about beach body ready or any of that rubbish.
The news has caught more people going to parties, having their hair dyed in car parks or actually being outside and having the audacity to drive somewhere nice and drink a coffee. We are told we must wait another few weeks and see if we are allowed out to travel to a destination for exercise without infecting each other with more variants named after nice places.
But the sun is shining!
Do you not know how lovely it is in Swansea when the sun shines? It’s so rare that a day without rain would be classified as a drought. I walked to my local park and felt the warmth and smelt the fumes from a passing moped piled on with screaming teenagers.
But anyhow, children on wheels are much easier to manoeuvre.
Last week Boris Johnson gave tentative dates for England to come out of the lockdown.
Wales, where we live, gave a more tentative approach to lifting the restrictions we have been living under since before Christmas. We are still under lockdown, we are still very much restricted to no travel and no unessential journeys, meet ups or socialising.
The media have erupted into euphoria.
I can’t share that sentiment. I am not euphoric, I am far from euphoric, I am tired and I am fed up and my hair is resembling an aged Rapunzel. My children are all still at home, their school lessons are still on a screen. They struggle, they can’t see their future as all they can see is the back of their bedroom door.
But moan as I do, Hope has been lobbed at us, like a big floundering fish that might flop away and slide slowly back into the water while I in slow motion grab it with both hands and miss.
Frannie is a year old now and in the middle of being a beautiful terror in our lives.
But when she runs, she flies. If she had wings, I don’t think we’d see her again. Once this lockdown is over, we are going to walk for miles on long sandy beaches. Until then it’s apologies to the *seagulls in the park.
*No seagulls were harmed. She just enjoys the chase, if it was a crisp packet it would be equally fun.
Stepping outside in a sideways ice blast to get those milk bottles is as far as I’m reaching today.
Dog print pyjamas, bobble hat and complete the outfit with some fluffy socks. A passer-by scurries on past either oblivious or terrified at the sweary mess of a women trying to keep her glasses on and picking up milk bottles with hair writhing in the cold wind like the wicked witch of the morning.
Where is my coffee?
The wind is bitingly cold today. Straight from the North Pole and very bitter it is. Flurries of snow in my face and my hair.
A boot full of food to last the next week, no end to the lockdown as yet but we all are holding our breath and hoping.
The house we live in was built around 150 years ago by miners and their families working in the area. That means that at one point. there were families in these very houses, going through the last pandemic of 1918 when a flu virus ravaged through the world and took out indiscriminately, from our communities.
Also a place of birth, I know Gruff wasn’t the only baby born in this house, there have been many births too. He arrived on a mid Tuesday morning cheered on by a small handful of midwives (and a few neighbours stood outside listening to my swearing).
I have dreamt of death a lot in the last year, of about people I have lost, often I have conversations in these dreams with these people and they are angry at me. I’ve got no idea why, (for probably talking too much?) In real life I have no idea what I would say as I would really rather dream about dogs or food or a nice day on a warm beach getting sunburnt.
They say death is an end, but also a beginning, and of better times ahead. I’m clinging on to that thought a little to much right now.
I see where this is going and I am powerless to stop it, my jumbled corpse and broken bones while being lovingly purred at.
Pandemic didn’t cause a washing shortage that’s for sure. I’ve lost the will to live pairing socks and everyone’s got each others and is having fun negotiating them back. Don’t say I don’t make it fun.
Covid infections are on the decline again, the roller coaster once more is slowing down.
There’s talk of the children being phased back into school throughout the next month.
My children are drained, they are bright, articulate individuals but they are deprived of their friends, the contact, the interactions, the conflicts.
They long for a nice day, without rain with some warmth and sand in their toes, not litter, discarded masks and gloves.
Stop everything. It’s snowed!
Just hearing the silence and knowing that there’s a snowfall on the roads and not just because it’s lockdown.
There’s children screaming all around my area from tea tray sledge rides on an icy road and snow down the backs of their necks. They’re all off their screens and legging it down to the park to enjoy the light dusting from the skies.
And yes, my son is in shorts and wellies. I care not, he’s outside and he’s laughing.
Yellow snow, gritty snow, icy snow, roll in it and look up at grey gentle skies dusting us with frozen kisses.
You going “out out?”
That, in Swansea, means out on the town, all glammed up, drinkies, heels and hair done.
No I am not. I’m dressed in yesterday’s jumper, my shoes are muddy, my coat is soaking and my dog is clearly delighted to be dragged around the block in sideways, January sleet.
Still no winter beach, no big sky.
My only essential travel is to buy food and growl, masked at people who come close. It’s hard to feel so anxious when people forget and reach over to take stuff off shelves. What on earth do you do?
Bonnie looks at me…
She’d growl first…
I might try that next time.
It’s going to take time for the cats to accept this bundle of puppy energy. We’re six months in and tuna is the magic that brings these two opposing parties together.
Today was let’s eat Tuna together and not chase or swipe.
We sit on the stairs as that is neutral territory, both can retreat if it gets too much.
Frannie sits as still as she can but the tail always betrays her, the faster the swoosh, I know we have imminent chase pending and to cancel negotiations quickly…
On some nights, the steelworks on the horizon in Port Talbot, light up the clouds with a fiery glow (like Mordor from the Lord of the Rings). It’s eerily beautiful, you can see flames reaching high into the sky. Last night, it was full aglow, quite something to look at and I was very much enjoying the view.
I was so busy staring, I very nearly collided into a man holding his small dog high on his head cursing my little evening day dream and accusing *Bonnie, (on the lead, by my side, looking as puzzled as myself) of wanting to eat his small furry thing.
I muttered an apology along the lines of “So sorry, miles away, lovely hat” and scurried away.
Cue a fox running across our path and I really wondered where I was, Mad Max or Swansea.
Swansea in a pandemic, Mad Max is little too sensible right now.
*Being a big sized dog, she quite often gets accused of wanting to eat smaller dogs but she’s actually a huge fan of dogs smaller than herself as she can play Queen.
School days are a strange business during these lockdown days.
No car run, no rush out the door in the morning.
Still, early to rise, in the dark for a morning check in, registration or daily work download.
Gone are the assemblies, singing and hanging up of coats and hellos to friends.
It’s find a space away from whiskers and paws and chewing mouths.
Please let mum have a coffee and I’ll figure out that maths I promise.
Dressed and ready but no where to go.
Funny, lonely business this learning on screens but there we are right now, in the midst of a pandemic and figuring out the area of Tom’s Toblerone chocolate bar.
Let me tell you a little secret, us mums are looking at you and are very glad it’s not them having to do this.
Children of 2020, you’re doing amazing, don’t ever forget that.
Very cold right now, just above freezing and it’s decided to rain so we are slipping our way around the streets tonight.
Even the billboard is half arsing the light.
There are warmer and lighter days ahead but this month is the queen of dark and cold and she isn’t shifting herself in any hurry. January won’t be rushed.
Dragging our way through this lockdown January.
Can we update the puppy training manual to include how not to chase and destroy drones please, that would be great. Frannie has had a whale of a time chasing one a hundred foot high, she’s got ambition but not wings.
Still in lockdown, still in alert level 4 or whatever that’s come to mean as we’re all out on the covid numbers.
Graphs, charts and projections, I’ve seen more this past year than I ever did at school, all pretty like my tired looking Christmas decorations, must take them down Angie, before twelfth night.
As it’s bad luck.
I laughed a bit too much at that.
Luck rhymed with my reply.
The giant cul-de-sac that is 2020 is gasping it’s last wheezy covid filled breaths, slowly melting at the bottom of my beer.
I won’t miss you.
New year does not promise much either but we can hope and hang on through the dark months.
I’ll raise a glass to that.
Best wishes to you all and all the love from a small sketchbook in Wales.
It’s Christmas Eve 2020.
Put down your worries, put down your mobile, turn away from the television, switch off the radio, it’s six o clock. Come on, now, hurry!
It’s time to go to door with your bells, open it and listen. Our street is ringing out into the dry, cold, clear night. You can hear them!
The sound of bells all around, up on Townhill, over to Brynhyfryd, even on Kilvey hill, there’s a fella with a bell app ringing it while sucking on a cigarette. The scrambler bike stops and toots.
We are ringing them. We are little but we are shouting you Santa and you must come this year. The adults have been rubbish, please do your magic.
The moon is lighting the way and we are calling you Santa.
We’ve been so good this year and we’ve tried out best to wash our hands and do our work.
Please come this year, please bring a present.
A letter has arrived from the local council and health service reminding us to remember to stay away and stay at home. Infections here and in the surrounding areas are very, very high. Our hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed if numbers keep rising.
The electronic bill board is still promoting Christmas deals with the odd public service information asking us to keep our 2 metre distances and stay at home whenever possible.
In other news, the cats have decided Gruff’s window is wonderful to watch the birds from and bring their muddy paws in.
It’s still raining, we may need a boat soon.
The rain is playing games with me.
Every day this week, I’ve arrived at the park and the heavens have opened.
Nothing stopping Frannie lightning bolt puppy, she’s been busy herding the crows and seagulls and did attempt to herd the red kite that soared over our heads but it wasn’t having any of it.
We are now very wet, muddy but happy to see open space, (even if I’m soaked to the bone).
The news is pretty grim right now, Swansea still has stupidly high levels of infections. Social media is full of experts.
I’m just an expert in tea making and puppy drying. I don’t smell very nice right now.
Midnight last night we went into a full lockdown again.
The news was announced a few hours before and the ensuing rush in my city to the shops was like a tsunami of panic. My social media filled up pretty quickly with images of miserable queuing and cars gridlocking car parks in the rain, in the dark with the backdrop of blinking Christmas lights.
I walked the dogs later and the roads were very busy with speeding cars and honking horns, you could genuinely feel the atmosphere. One of anger and frustration.
The news says it’s a new variant, it spreads faster. We’re all to stay at home indefinitely, there will be a review in three weeks but numbers are flying here as I’ve said before so Christmas day is the only day we are ok to go out and see our other “bubble”.
A very strange Christmas this is going to be. I’m quite deflated to be honest with you as I imagine the whole of Wales is right now but I understand why.
More milk it is then.
I have a problem.
I want cakes.
But the plastic bag that I have to put my hand into won’t open and I can’t lick my finger.
My glasses are also steaming up so it could very well be a bread roll I’ll be picking up instead.
That’s going to cause riots.
Millie’s studying A- levels and Welsh Baccalaureate. Being at home means she has to study remotely with the school.
I can tell she’s doing Welsh, the pencil has been chewed and she’s ignoring the dogs while giving the laptop a stare that would make a grown man cry.
I’m going to hide in the kitchen.
The lights this year are lovely on my street. I can ignore the litter and the rain when I see the houses lit up.
Feels like forever for those who only went back recently after more isolating.
So many blaming schools for the rapid spread in our area right now.
So many not seeing how education and school life is everything when you miss your friends and chips at lunch. (Even if you have to study in the classroom with the windows wide open). Please go easy on our young people, they’re struggling too.
I think this break over Christmas will go on a bit longer as Covid infections are not slowing down.
Leave for school at 8 am.
Back home by 8.30 am because your school year has to self isolate again as there are covid positive cases.
One is mortified, one is delighted because they missed P.E.
And we wait. Again.
I’ve drawn the bottom window, Millie got the top window.
We might be stuck at home in lockdown but we can brighten the world up a little.
Had a text to tell me to isolate Gruff today as one of his class mates has Covid. I hope they’re ok, this is going to happen, this is a virus. Truth is we’re all locked down till the 9th of November so there won’t be much change for him.
Halloween is coming up but we won’t be trick or treating nor answering the door this year.
A very strange year and just getting stranger. Halloween all year round right now.
We’re hours away from the next 17 day lockdown for Wales. It will be a full lock down, we are to stay at home and only venture out for food, exercise and medical emergencies.
And I went to do a food shop.
The shop was too busy, full of people. A lot more than normal.
I stood at the entrance and had to wait to go in as there were too many inside.
I turned around and walked back to my car.
Someone make me a cup of tea, I don’t want to make my own tea any more.
That’s all I want.
We go to school very differently than we used to.
That’s ok though because it’s easy enough to do, put sandwiches in a bag so we can put the rubbish in the bin straight after eating.
All the parents at primary school queue up outside now and they wear their masks. There’s a lot of cheery ones too. We have Halloween themed ones with skulls and crossbones. There’s even a teddy wearing one, clever ted.
The older ones in high school have their windows open to increase ventilation. They mix in their class “bubbles” and not with anyone else. There are tents in the playground for them to stay in their groups at breaktime. Food is eaten, hands are washed, a lot. Coughs are common but the jokes fly round that you’ve got Covid now. Everyone talks of a year they’ve heard of in another school that got sent home for two weeks because of a positive test.
Home is moan-time, after, you’ve washed your hands, again.
I got told of a smokers shelter today, the people two metres apart, smoking, masks under their chins, grey sky, coffee in hand, steam rising slowly.
Back to school and here come the sniffles, (oh we are smothering with it).
Here comes a tissue eating puppy.
And a list of symptoms to check off just in case it’s Covid symptoms.
Numbers are still rising again and mask wearing is compulsory indoors in school and in public spaces for children over 11 years of age.
In schools, the children can mix in their class as a “bubble” so if in the instance of someone getting infected, only that class affected needs to self isolate at home. It makes for a strange playtime but it’s a compromise to continue education after so long off school.
Some counties are already in special localised lockdowns restricting movements. There is talk of a bleak winter ahead on the news.
Frannie found a sock in the park today and tore off like a cheetah with it, sprinting with a snotty nose at 46 years old after a puppy makes my face go a strange colour…
Oh god I’m so sorry. My glasses fogged up again. Yes I do wear them on top of my mask but somehow I’ve misted up again. I didn’t see you there in front of the bananas, have a nice day…
I guess that’s the artist in me. My washing line dies dramatically with all my clean washing on and I grab my sketchbook and ponder the comparisons of the detritus fest 2020 is turning out to be.
The year that in hindsight you’d have hibernated through.
The year if you’d have placed a bet on not going around the world in eighty one days. because you had to self isolate because there was a flight ban from the United Kingdom (so you had to deflate your balloon).
The year if you were a time traveller, you’d have skipped in favour of seeing something like paint dry on a Van Gogh or a Bob Ross (I’m not picky).
The year if you had the choice, you’d rub out 2020 and wake up in 2021, refreshed and optimistic your diet was going to be jaffa cake free.
Best pick up that washing. and put the kettle on.
Back to school.
Nothing. Nothing prepares you for that wave of emotion watching your child walk into school like this.
Teachers in masks.
Marked out spaces.
Playground cordoned off.
Gruff is beyond happy to be back, don’t get me wrong.
I’ve got mother of the year award as I sent him with a back pack not a disposable carrier for his lunch.
I’d like to wish all teachers the best of luck dealing with what is a very difficult and emotional return.
You’re all stars.
I have just dropped Evie off for her first day back after four months.
We drove past playgrounds taped up, school buses driven by masked faces, empty roads and a cloudy blustery sky.
We both thought it felt like a September day.Cold wind, grey sky, showers on the horizon.
Evie jumped out the car and legged it up the road without a backwards glance.
I sat in the car and bloody howled. I howled all the way home. Big red puffy snotty howls. Nice one Angie.
Good luck to all the little dudes starting school in Wales today.
Us mums will be there to hose you down in the garden when you come home
Evie is the first to return to school tomorrow.
One day a week. All schools are running on reduced capacity until September.
Four months of home school, no friends. It’s been tough for children and it will be another adaptation to face returning to school.
And they’ve ALL grown out of their shoes and wellies.
But, we have hand gel.
Evie and Gruff haven’t been in a shop since March. We decided to try the small bargain shop nearby.
They looked at all the queues and the masked faces as we got out the car.
If someone came near them, they looked at me as if to say, “what should I do?”
“Just keep walking” , I smiled, “you’ll be alright” .
“We’ll wash our hands when we get home, don’t worry”
They’re excited to return to school for one day a week.
The school will be quite different with all the new measures in place.
They just want to see their friends again.
I had some meetings on my computer today.
You know, where you link up and all talk to each other in little boxes.
Miya decided to join in. She liked seeing everyone so much she showed them her nicely healed tail and watched the little people in their boxes. No one was swiped though, (she reserves that watching wildlife on you tube).
It’s the pandemic isn’t it? Summed up in little electronic boxes. All safe until the paws hit that keyboard.
They didn’t see the cat problem coming did they now?
There’s no muting a cat or it’s tail.
Look what we’ve found.
It’s not very big.
Just stick a twig in by that sticky bit of web between the wood.
Mum what did you just say?
Of course I’m busy, I putting the clothes away.
Ask the cat.
The kids will start a day a week at school starting next week.
They are so excited about it.
Freedom to learn is not something they will take for granted like I did.
Let me tell you something.
After twelve weeks, a bag of chips really does smell as good as you’d think it would.
Solve everything with this one cup in the morning.
Okay. Maybe it takes three these days.
Don’t talk to me, I haven’t woken up yet.
There were lots of gloves on the floor tonight when we walked. Towering cumulonimbus clouds in the sky, like mashed potato crashing into the hill. I was dodging showers between the sun tonight.
I saw a face mask with a red plastic piece in the middle where the air goes in and out. Thrown on the floor and left with the fast food wrappers that have started appearing again since the drive through re opened. The seagulls were delighted and swept down to grab a brown paper bag with a few chips left in for their dinner.
There were towering weeds and clover covered in bees fighting with the gloves. It’s not all bad, life is thriving on a mini-beast level anyway.
We are still only allowed to travel within a five mile radius and shops are still only food and necessities.
There is talk of a brief return to school before summer but not full time, just a check in.
It’s a strange purgatory.
I know the retribution will be swift and terrible but I really love drawing in other people’s sketchbooks…
My guys are real tech fans, they love a gadget, why not, it’s fun.
All the screens in the world however, will never replace a massive, cardboard box.
Endless worlds travelled to.
Infinite possibilities within four walls of brown.
Just the best thing in the world.
Climb in and make your den your own, (with the two cats and the dog as well please). Drag in all the cushions and throws in the house, fill it with cars or fluffy animals.
Eat your lunch in it, try it, food tastes brilliant in a box.
Within the parameters of four walls, embrace boredom and overcome it with imagination and fun.
Seeing my boy staring out of a box gives me a perspective on how this lock-down has played out for my children.
Very exciting day today.
I vacuumed the house.
I terrorised children, I sucked up lego and the cats hate me.
How was your day?
I know a lot of parents have worried about screen use during lock-down.
It’s not been a problem.
I send the heavies in.
Nothing to see here.
Because it is impossible to garden with a cat.
Really impossible. Fusses are required every minute or I get swiped or nibbled.
I feel very bullied.
Not much weeding was done.
In other news I went to the supermarket without crying but I forgot to buy chocolate.
I still wash my hands.
We haven’t seen the sea in over nine weeks.
It has been cooler and overcast today so to avoid the busy times, we went this evening (as we live under five miles from the sea and our current guidelines are to go within five miles for exercise).
I could write about how wonderful it was for us to see such space again and hear the crashing waves but our old dog stole the show by bulldozing us all out of her way and crashing straight into the water.
Something she has never done in all the time we have had her. She hates water. Getting her out was the problem.
Tonight she was a salty, sea, dog fish. Happy to have sandy paws and stink all the way home.
She is now dead to the world, stinking, snoring, dreaming of long grey shores and a gentle wind.
It’s going to be a while.
No I’ve got to blow it up first.
Well it’s got to fill with water.
It’s going to be a while.
No it’s not ready, bit longer.
Might be a bit cold at first.
IT’S TOO COLD!
This post is not about today.
This is about tomorrow.
Because tomorrow my children are going out on their own for the first time in over nine weeks.
They will meet with friends and do kids stuff.
While remaining two metres apart.
It’s your eyebrow raising, not mine…
But it’s time.
Nice little walk to another shop today to collect toiletries.
I left the car at home and walked in the hot sun, not normally a sun lover but it was lovely. Getting used to queuing up for things now and everyone seems to follow the new distancing without much trouble.
Such a difference to a few months ago. There is calm and talk and laughing at how no one gets it right.
We’re all people, we’re all trying our best.
I was the returning hero with pink bubblegum and smelly, bright coloured soap.
So as of Monday, we will be able in Wales to meet other people outside the house.
Within five miles.
And two metres apart.
We are happy but looking at it from a captive point of view, we are far from free. We can roam a little further.
This is far from over.
So much talk of it not being real, of it being as easy as flu.
The news says in an estimated study only six percent of France is actually immune to covid 19.
All about the “R” rate see?
Parents of children be warned, they are growing.
The lock down and spring combined has created a massive problem, literally.
You might not have noticed yet but you will. Or you may be like me and gawp in disbelief at the extra foot of difference sticking out of the bottom of trouser legs.
Or an emptied cupboard of sweets (you thought were safe) and there’s a smug child sat there looking full and very proud of themselves.
Or the fact they keep bumping their heads on things they used to happily walk under.
Or they just walk up behind you and tap you slowly on the shoulder…
“Hi mum, you look….smaller”.
This is happening right in front of our noses.
Please don’t panic buy shoes, I’ve only got wellies left now…
Houston we have a problem, we’re not go for launch.
We’re in the house, under a lock down.
Have a safe trip to the International Space Station.
Mission control, Swansea, no go.
God speed Bob and Doug, we’ll watch you from the skies tonight.
Got all three to step outside tonight with dog, me and a boomerang.
Up on a hill, long grass, a warm breeze.
And big sky.
Can I have a sketchbook please? Need to draw some monster hands.
From the boy who hasn’t drawn since lock-down.
I’m beyond smiling. But I am being very cool about it and trying not to look. Of course I always have spares because to run out of sketchbooks would not be worth thinking about.
It’s hard not to peek okay?
I have too any words tonight to write. Too many emotions.
The end of May is here.
The trees are full of leaves, the breeze is cold today.
The nights are so light now, that dawn chorus is so early. Can’t be morning yet?
The news is full of outrage and retribution today.
Social media is the same.
It’s draining and pointless. There is no solution, not yet. There is talk of a vaccine and trials and an antibody test to be rolled out soon but nothing concrete.
I just want more of that mint chocolate from the cupboard but I’ve eaten the last square.
There’s a robin singing, I think it’s been singing all night under that new LED streetlamp.
Thoughts when someone comes closer than the required two metres in the supermarket checkout queue.
You’re standing too close to my broccoli!
Get back! (outstretched arm, palm up for dramatic impact).
Please would you mind taking a step back.
Oh hi, I can see you’ve stepped over your two metre line, that’s interesting. Glares.
Please stop moving forward.
Where’s the fire?
Here they come!
Defend at all costs.
(No cats were harmed in the defence of this splendid lounge den and much chocolate was consumed and squash drank).
Fill me with coffee.
Keep it going.
Right to the top.
After a long sunny day, the old paving slabs out the front of the house stay warm throughout the evening, long after the sun has gone down.
It feels wonderful on your feet.
There’s sorcery in coffee and vision in spectacles.
Combine the both and I transform from shadow to human.
Sleep hits me when the birds start singing.
Might sleep in the garden, might sleep in a tree.
Can I have a coffee yet?
I watched a little boy scoot past today with his face mask on. Happy to be going to the park to play with his mum.
Are children going to play face masks in school history lessons and write about what it was like to stay in their houses?
What did you do in lock-down?
The roads are busier now, there seems to be more people going out.
I wish you well, I’m glad you haven’t been affected or infected.
Maybe you will be lucky why should I judge you?
Why should I even bother to draw my curtains to look out at the road so busy with cars.
We all have our reasons, hard not to feel something when you hear the noise of cars back on the road.
The news is split into where you live now. Wales will continue the lock-down for three more weeks, opening garden centres for essential begonias and fast food drive throughs. In England there is talk of primary children returning to school but Westminster is still keeping parliament on reduced numbers. That’s nice.
The infection numbers have risen today.
This is not over.
Myles’ brother left his house for the last time today.
Long steps, hat off, the funeral director bows his head. The hearse leaves the house slowly, slowly down the steep hill to a small ceremony of fifteen at the crematorium. There can be no more.
The escort of twenty Welsh Water vans and the children in their rugby shirts waving from the sunny streets.
Goodbye Hugh, Swansea turned out for you today.
Thank you for always reading my blog.
Heaven has a huge cheeseboard but don’t eat the chives, your Dad picked them.
Rest in peace.
It’s the smart black trousers, tie and jacket. The shined shoes and ironed shirt. The one we all keep in the wardrobe for that occasion. The funeral. We take it out, check the moths have left it alone and iron the shirt again. Then we hang it up ready to wear.
I remember buying a suit when I was twenty seven, days before my mother died. I bought it ready to wear for her funeral, I didn’t want to be thinking about clothes, I didn’t want to be wearing the suit at all, nobody does but it is what you do. It is what everybody does.
Tomorrow the funeral will happen, and then the suit will be taken off and will go to the back of the wardrobe once more.
The walk was quiet tonight. My first steps outside today.
Tomorrow’s rubbish piled up outside each house. Black bags and pink plastic. Tonight’s litter dances around the empty streets in a happy scuttle, the ground is dry making for quick passage. Gloves, masks and cans of energy drinks race each other amongst the growing weeds.
The news is baffling, in England there is news of the lifting of restrictions but you’d need a code cracker to understand the words out of the Prime Ministers mouth. I don’t think anyone is the wiser right now.
Here in Wales, we are still grounded and we are still no go. There is still too much infection. The lock-down remains. We are allowed out twice a day, garden centres can re-open and fast food chains.
The shape of my cat with a squeaking mouse in her mouth can be seen leaping the walls of the back gardens in the evening sun.
That is not coming in the house.
Gruff loves maths, he loves numbers. He hates writing but loves to scrawl, (there’s hope there…)
Anyhow, the moment every great mathematician dreams of.
This particular problem to solve was four days of scribbling on sheets of paper, vast amounts of midget gems eaten and a refusal to give up.
I had no part in his struggle, I was kicked out of my studio.
He got there! What a moment.
We might not be able to let our feet roam right now but our heads can soar in the clouds any time we like.
A book, a day dream, a song, a drawing, a tree that sways, the clouds that build in the sky, the birds that ride the wind, the perfume in the breeze from the blossom.
Float away and never feel the time is wasted because that is when your mind is truly free.
It’s the 75th anniversary of V.E. day today and there is bunting everywhere. The street behind us have all moved into their front gardens and are having a socially distanced street party. The music is thumping away and I hear laughter. There is an eager d.j. on a microphone and children laughing.
The sun has been shining all day, a light breeze and dancing seagulls in the sky.
Our road is a little busier so there is no sitting outside in the spring sunshine here.
I didn’t make bunting, I drew it on the pavement outside with chalk. Coloured arms and a smudgy face.
We don’t really feel like joining in.
Myles’ brother will be cremated next week. It was sudden and quick.
He didn’t get to say goodbye. There wasn’t time. Cancer moves in that way, I know too well of that.
The sun shines on and the news can’t tell me enough how the lock down will be gradually eased and that it’s brilliant.
I see no good news yet, I see 30,000 dead.
I want to stop crying now.
They know when you need them. Even if you have to pay them in sausages.
Cats on stairs.
Cats in pairs.
They go for your toes, they go for your head.
Sneaky little murder mittens swipe-swiping through the banister.
The Welsh do the very best hugs although the debate really should always be, do you hug enough and the answer should always be, never.
The irony being that we all have to do it from 2 meters away.
Now this is Swansea, this is the great, grey, gloom that descends when everywhere else is basking in sunshine.
And a bright green face mask. (Get off Bonnie you don’t know where it’s been).
The rubbish tells its own tale of the pandemic, gloves and masks litter the floor. Why the rush to drop these things? Does it chase you?
I hurry home just in case.