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Lockdown? I've been so very, very lucky says Karen Cannard




The lockdown restrictions have eased significantly since my last column but we are not out of the woods yet. Like many readers, I will continue to take sensible precautions about how I slowly emerge from being mostly at home back into the wider world.

I was aware of my homebird tendencies before lockdown and I have become much more conscious of this since. Even so, I thought I’d soon develop cabin fever being at home so much and that my threshold for local walks would quickly be reached. Instead, I have surprised myself that luckily, I haven’t got anywhere near any level of boredom yet.

I say ‘luckily’ because I do recognise that I am very lucky. I’m lucky to have been able to work from home and have had access to convenient food deliveries. I am lucky to have had our garden to occupy me and I have been lucky that the family, so far, has remained in good health – and by that I also mean good mental health.

tomato plant isolated on white (37243575)
tomato plant isolated on white (37243575)

It’s normally my curiosity for discovery that distracts me out of the home: the thirst for finding quirky new things at antique shops, car boot sales and charity shops; the opportunity to visit a garden or an exhibition with a friend; or even just a change of scene, swapping suburbia for a day at the seaside or sight-seeing in a city.

Under normal conditions, if I haven’t been into town for a week or so, I soon feel withdrawal symptoms, a desperation to visit, a chance to reconnect with the familiar and discover the new.

There’s that word ‘new’ again - the need for novelty, the key driver that pulls me far and wide. However, even with lockdown distances relaxed, that once urgent desire to pop into town or explore beyond the immediate horizon has totally disappeared.

Discussing this recently with a good friend during a socially-distanced walk, ambling through the heart of Bury St Edmunds for the first time in three months, we pondered this sudden change in character.

“That’s recycling for you,” she said.

“Recycling?”

I know I’ve become adept at the three Rs but it’s hardly been my saving grace or a solution to boredom – except of course for Reuse, which has inspired an interesting project or two.

“No, I mean you’ve become good at recycling days,” she continued. “Days that feel the same. Being in the same place day-in-day-out. You’ve worked out how to turn those days into something new.”

There’s the day that I first spotted Goldfinches in the garden and the day the first flowers appeared on the tomato plants. Then there’s the day that I transplanted into the ground the tender annuals that I’d grown from seed – and they survived.

And also the first day that we walked around our estate. That’s a housing estate by the way, not a country estate. I’m not that lucky!

I admit that walk was not very exciting. My inner critic tried to convince me I’d have more fun doing circuits of my own small patch of land.But there was another day and another walk. This time, to a different part of the estate, then extended to another, and then another. I hadn’t visited those streets for years and it was interesting to see how they had changed. As spring moved into summer, we noticed the front gardens turn into mini show-gardens.

Saturdays have welcomed in the weekend with a walk to villages further afield, no car, but exploring public footpaths and quiet country roads that are accessible by foot from our doorstep - thanks to an app with unlimited access to Ordnance Survey maps. It has been an invaluable tool in satisfying my curiosity, helping to extend our walk each time we venture out, including a country estate that’s within a stone’s throw of our housing estate.

I’ve enjoyed this slower pace and perhaps I haven’t changed much after all. Curiosity still pulls me away from the sofa, whether it’s 3 metres away in the back garden or 3 miles away by foot.

And yesterday, I heard a bird croak in our garden. Or was it a throaty quack? Possibly a Jay? Trust me. That’s another novelty!


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