How to beat loneliness without actually seeing people

This time last year I was bragging about how much lockdown suited me. I was writing my novel, learning the guitar, doing puzzles and accessing the Hay Festival by Zoom.  I had the whole flat to myself, acres of time, a million things yet to watch, tons of books to catch up on, and all my clients via Zoom so I didn’t even have to keep the place all that tidy.  Smug, is the only word to describe my state of mind last April. Now, though, it’s fair to say [...]

How we’ve all heard quite enough about cold water swimming

I was going to write a post called what I have learned from swimming in the sea in winter. Ten short points, nothing particularly original, a bit about endorphins, a bit about doing the thing you think is impossible and possibly a mention of brown fat. Then I saw John O'Farrell’s tweet (gently) mocking ‘yet another’ cold water swimming piece in yesterday’s Guardian, plus a string of like minded comments. So I didn't. I'd write about shame instead; referencing Brené Brown, wondering what shame does to us, how it differs [...]

From FOMO to FOGO

The end of lockdown is just around the corner.  Data permitting (oh yeah?), we’re going to be released in stages, end of March, mid April, mid summer.  Travel companies have started to beg people to book holidays. People are planning their catch up parties.  It’ll be a summer of celebration. Even writing that paragraph has sent a shudder of buzzy anxiety through my system.  Hang on while I take some deep breaths.  Asking around, it seems this feeling is common. There are some obvious reasons for this growing panic: the [...]

How To Not Feel Dread

I am a creature of habit, almost detrimentally so. I never change my running route, I swim at the same time most days, I write my diary, I buy the same things from the supermarket, I have two bicycle circuits. One goes down the big hill then up a short, steep climb to the golf course; the other takes the same roads but the other way around which including a long tough hill on Saddlescombe Road. It’s this second version that I dread, enough to stop me enjoying the entire [...]

Twelve things to love about lockdown and four to hate (maybe five):

1.The weather. It has to be connected, right? 2.  How the front at Brighton smells like the sea. I’ve never noticed that before. On the same note, I cycled past a field of sheep yesterday and I could smell the wool. Maybe fields of sheep always smell of wool and I don’t notice. Either way it’s a plus; 3.  Cycling. I’ve not been up to Devil’s Dyke before because there are so many cars. Without cars, it's a great ride; 4.  Afterwards, and how none of us know what that [...]

Sixteen things I didn’t know a month ago:

Even when everything’s closed, there is still slightly too much to do; Starting any new project – making curtains, writing a novel, learning the guitar requires will, determination, routine – not just time; I knew I was an introvert, but I hadn’t realised how much of my happiness depended on not having to go out; What furlough means. My guess is like tsunami after 2004, we'll find it popping up in every other sentence from now on; That face masks protect other people more than the wearer - using one [...]

Who Loves a Lockdown?

  When I was a kid I wanted to be a long distance lorry driver. I hadn’t thought about motorways or transport cafés, fatigue, the health impact of sitting down for ages, deadlines, queues at borders etc.  My  fantasy was about being all by myself, in a snug little cabin, all day.  I’m reminded of it now. I have been noticing how friends and clients have been responding to this voluntary lockdown.  Some seem to be glowing with it, secretly (or openly) relishing the prohibition on crowds, travel, social contact.  [...]

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