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.