Before writing this week’s column I decided to look back at my blog from 28th March 2020. This time last year we were just coming to terms with the first ‘lockdown’. Every Thursday evening, we would stand on our doorsteps clapping and banging pans with wooden spoons as church bells rang to show our support for the NHS and our care workers.
A year on and this week the church bells rang out once again. This time we stood in silence to remember all those that we have lost during this pandemic. We also remembered all those who have worked tirelessly to keep our world turning in a year when the world as we knew it changed before our eyes. They never stopped working for us even if we stopped clapping for them.
I still remember just how quiet those first few weeks of lockdown were with empty roads and the skies filled with birdsong like I’d never heard before.
It’s amazing how resilient human beings are and how quickly we got used to new ways of living. So many people turned sheds and bedrooms into makeshift offices, so many of us dug out our old track suit bottoms as leisure soared in price.
The queues we were expecting didn’t really materialise as badly as we thought they might as we all started ordering groceries online or booking a pick up slot at the supermarket. A year on and I know the Hermes delivery man’s car from the bottom of the road and the lad who delivers our Gousto box will probably get a Christmas card next December.
We’ve got used to a new world, will we ever go back to the way it was Pre Covid?
This weekend the first stages of opening up lockdown come into place here in Wales. Stay local will be replaced by unrestricted travel inside Wales’ borders and 6 people from 2 households can now meet outside. Sport for under 18 can start again, you can soon visit your local library and maybe take a visit to one of the newly reopened Gardens. After a stop-start year Holiday Parks and Caravan sites are opening up and this weekend many are fully booked for the first time in 18 months.
I know we’ve been here before. Last summer we had a taste of freedom with the easing of restrictions. The Government encouraged workers to return to the office and even gave us money to visit our local restaurants with ‘Eat out to Help out’. We all know now that those relaxations of the rules led to a second wave.
Are we making the same mistakes again?
At least this time we have the vaccine doing its unseen job of protecting us all one by one, from the oldest and most vulnerable and hopefully as quickly as possible to the young who have given up so much this year.
It seems appropriate that we start to feel a new freedom in our lives this weekend as the clocks spring forward to give us lighter evenings again for the next 6 months. I don’t think anyone is really going to miss the extra hour in bed this year and the sheer joy that we all feel on the lighter nights is bound to help our collective mood.
Although our lockdown world is ‘louder’ now than it was this time last year I am still much more aware of the sounds of the birds and animals, and the beauty of nature right on my doorstep…and I’ve really got very close to one new set of friends.
I know we are nearly into April, but I still have a Christmas Tree with lights on in my back garden. The idea was that because one of my sons couldn’t come home from London we would keep the Christmas tree up so that we could have a ‘fake’ Christmas’ when he finally returned. Of course, that doesn’t seem any closer now than it did in December.
When my granddaughter comes to visit she insists on putting the lights on and that in turn seems to have encouraged a pair of long tailed tits to make our Christmas tree their second home. What’s more, because the tree is so close to the windows they can’t help but launch themselves at their own reflections that they see in the glass. Even as I sit here writing they keep on tap, tap tapping at the window. The amazing thing is that because of the reflection they can’t see me. I am literally inches away from these beautiful, tiny birds. I have never been so close to such flighty creatures in my whole life and it is wonderful.
There are still a few things that I’m starting to worry about. We’ve got a sweep stake going in the family to see which neighbour will be the first to mow the lawn. Once someone in the street does it you know its just a matter of time before we’ve all got to do it. Oh well, it’s a small price to pay to see everything start to grow again.
So, we move into the next phase of coping with this pandemic in hope but also I’m sure carrying some fears with us too. As well as the clocks going forward, this weekend is also Palm Sunday or as we call it here in Wales, ‘Sul Y Blodau’. This is the weekend traditionally where graves are tended and flowers placed at the start of Holy Week.
In case you don’t know much about Palm Sunday it marks the start of the end of the road for Jesus. On Sunday he arrives in triumph on the back of a donkey or colt depending on which Gospel you read. The people welcomed him with cheers and laid Palm branches at his feet. By the end of the week he had been tried, sentenced to death and crucified.
But the story didn’t end there. Good Friday was followed by Easter Sunday and the world changed forever.
As we start the beginning of the end of Lockdown, there will probably be moments of sadness and despair, but spring is in the air and with it hope and new life. Hopefully Sunday’s coming for us all.