It has been a very different year, thanks in part but not exclusively to Covid-19. Graham has been working from home for most of the time since mid-March, with just odd days in the office, and is really thankful to have had a stable job with no furlough. We have had more time at home with family visits having been seriously curtailed.
Early on in the year, before Covid took off, Dylys fainted in the bath, bashed her nose as she fell, and Graham came home from work to take her to A&E. She spent one night in hospital and then came home. The doctors suggest that an underactive thyroid may be the underlying cause of her fainting, but we are grateful for no reoccurrence.
In a strange year we have had two new garage doors! Early in the year, Graham had gone down to the West Midlands to visit his mother in the care home, and then spent time with his sister and family nearby. He drove home in the wind, tried to reverse the car into the garage, but did not notice that the wind had brought the garage door down 45 degrees. The rear windscreen was smashed, and the garage door broken. We got both fixed before the first lockdown happened.
Then in the autumn we went away for a holiday. We returned home, pulled onto the drive, and thought, “Hey, somebody has broken into our garage!” The door post was broken and the garage door was wedged inwards. But there was a note from a poor meter reader through the front door, explaining how his van had rolled off whilst he was reading a meter, and he found it up against our garage. It seemed to take weeks for his insurance claim to go through, but we had the door replaced at no cost to ourselves.
At the start of the year we booked two holidays: one in Cornwall for the final week in March, in which we would be able to see family; and the other in Bellingham Northumbria in September. As March progressed, that first holiday looked increasingly uncertain. As we approached that week, the Government advised (but did not legislate) that we should avoid unnecessary travel. Two days before we were due to travel, we cancelled it. The lockdown was announced whilst we were due to have been away, so we would have been in an awkward position if we had travelled.
We were pleased that the week in September did go ahead. Northumbria was under tighter restrictions at the time, but we never expected to meet up with other people whilst we were away, and it was not a problem. Positioned on the River North Tyne running east-west, and on the Pennine Way running north-south, Bellingham is a strategic place for good local walking. On a couple of days we drove to Keilder Water, which we found to be pleasant, but it does not compare with the sheer beauty of the Lake District.
Having missed out on seeing family in March, we booked up a last minute holiday in October, staying in a caravan near Looe. The rules at the time were such that we could not meet people indoors, but we were able to see Dad and Val, and Amy (niece) and Rosie (great niece) outdoors. The weather was generally good, we did lots of walking, enjoyed plenty of treats, and had a really good week.
For us, the more significant disruption this year were the restrictions on seeing family. In previous years we have been travelling on at least a couple of Saturdays each month, but it came to a halt with the first lockdown.
Graham’s mother moved to a care home in the West Midlands in the autumn of last year, and then from the care home to a nursing home early this year. All that we have been able to see of her since she moved to the nursing home is a few “window visits” during the summer (Graham sits outside the window of her ground floor room, she sits inside, with the window slightly open).
We managed one visit to Dylys’ family in the summer. When Uncle David died, attending the funeral was out of the question because numbers were very limited.
Church has also been very different this year, as we have had to get used to Zoom, and delivering “Service @ Home” sheets to church people who are not online. Graham has been publishing the pastor’s video sermons on Youtube, and has added significantly to the web site during the course of the year.
We had been attempting to recruit a Children and Families Worker, which we initially put on hold when the first lockdown happened, but then decided to go ahead, and we conducted interviews using Zoom. Katherine was appointed and joined our church in October.
Graham has been working from home for most of the time since mid-March. It works quite well, as modern technology makes it possible to access the business systems, talk with people, share the computer screen with people, with just the odd hold-up because the network connection is slower from home than it is in the office.
Dylys was going into schools with “Open the Book”, but that came to a halt early this year. She has been helping out at the hospital most weeks, but has not been allowed to do the office job there since the first lockdown – instead she is situated near the entrance, directing people to the masks. When she is not doing voluntary work, she has to put up with somebody else in the house who would normally be in the office for a large part of the day!