Lockdown Diary: Week Six

The weather turned this week, away from the summer-like sunshine and temperatures and towards something more appropriate for the end of April. We’ve had a few heavy showers, some stronger winds and there’s definitely been a chilly edge to the air. Tuesday was almost a write-off with heavy rain for much of the day but it slackened off in time for a walk after work. The weather over the previous weeks has been almost surreal with so much consistency in the warmth and sun, and whilst I do want it to return, this week’s rain and wind was almost a welcome return to the norm. The change has also brought another marker to show the passing of time.

Those walks after work have been so important in keeping some semblance of sense and perspective in my head. I hadn’t really realised just how important they have been until late this week when I’d had to wait until later in the evening. We usually go out immediately after finishing work for the day and they have formed a demarkation in time between the worlds of work and home. It seems I’ve finally noticed that working from home really can blur those worlds too much and without something to separate them it’s much more difficult to shut off the thoughts of the working day from home life hours. It’s also quite noticeable that I find it easier to block out home from work time than work from home time. That is not a reflection of the relative value I attached to them but more to do with my usual working self-discipline, the merging of home and workplace, and my significantly reduced ability to keep my mind occupied with my usual range of outdoor activities.

Those walks, as I’ve written previously, have enabled us to keep in touch with the nature around us. Kew is pretty special with all the lovely gardens, street trees and open spaces, as well as the River Thames. However, there is one unassuming spot that has been particularly good at providing wildlife highlights. There’s a closed off road between a railway embankment and the National Archives which provides a link to the river.  The embankment is covered in trees and deep undergrowth and, on the opposite side of the road, the Archives have a hedge in front of its gardens. As we’ve walked there over the past few weeks we’ve seen a daytime fox and plenty of birds including a garden warbler and two very loud blackcaps. However, this week we got a special surprise as we made our way down the road. In the deep undergrowth came a call I’d heard before but didn’t quite recognise. At first I thought it was a thrush but that wasn’t right. I then realised, it was a nightingale! I’ve only heard one once before and that was in a nature reserve, so it was a startling find, particularly in such a spot on the edge of London.

Whilst there is still a long way to go to get anywhere near back to normal, or more likely forward to a new normal, there are now at least some signs of hope in the daily news. We’re past the peak, the sad daily toll of deaths is dropping, at least in the measure of those passing away in hospitals. There is talk of relaxing some aspects of lockdown, if not social distancing, and the country is looking at ways to live with this virus while going about more normal daily life. I still think my girlfriend and I haven’t had it too bad compared to many others. However, the realisation that I really do need to go for a walk straight after work has highlighted that this situation can take its toll even on those who aren’t on the front line.

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