March 19th was my last day at work and on Monday 23rd, the country went into lockdown. What a strange feeling that was. I didn’t think I’d be back at work until September, as I work in schools, covering absent staff, mainly working with kids with behavioural and/or special educational needs. I was right. I love being on the boat and having unexpected, work free, extra boat time was fab for me 😁.
I’m good at entertaining myself and very rarely get bored. I saw lockdown as the perfect opportunity to get on top of all the boat jobs I’d been avoiding (so that didn’t happen 😂) and learn new stuff… soooo much new stuff 🤣.
The first week of lockdown, I spent alone, as my partner, Steve, was still working. My first day was full of uncertainty, disbelief and questions, so many questions; would we have to leave the marina? how would we get diesel for the heating? would we be able to go shopping? how many hobbies can I start?
Humans quickly adapt to change and our days fell into a new pattern. After week 1, Steve was put onto furlough, so I had a lockdown buddy-yay! We went on our daily “Boris Walk” along the canal, observed the deer in a nearby field, watched YouTube videos to learn about foraging (in case the shops ran out of everything). Although we didn’t find any chocolate or loo roll trees, we did discover you can make a brew out of dandelions which tastes like coffee and also dandelion honey. We didn’t actually do this, but you can!
Steve was my companion for 4 weeks. In this time, we managed to neatly avoid the jobs we had planned, by watching other people doing boat maintenance on YouTube, going for walks in the local area, in the day and evening and watching Netflix boxsets, by which time we were ready for bed. There’s always tomorrow, we declared.
Just before lockdown, I had visited Hobbycraft to stock up on art supplies, as I felt the latent artist within, was about to emerge and it did, for a few weeks, on and off.
By April, the weather had got quite warm, the daffodils were popping up, pollution was noticeably reduced, the birds seemed louder, the A43 quieter and there were no aeroplanes in the sky, a surreal time. I felt more in touch with my surroundings, really noticing the smaller details that usually get lost in the day to day rushing about. Without having a timescale anymore, the days drifted past and I felt content. Steve sat out on the jetty opposite the boat, catching the sun and reading a book, while I drew eyeballs and Oscar the cat and perfected the art of making flatbread and marmite and cheesy bread rolls. We also now had a marina Facebook group, where we chatted and took part in a daily photo challenge…a really positive thing to come out of lockdown, which kept spirits up and created friendships. We’re on Day 199 (now 212) of our photo challenge as I type this.
Steve went back to work. I successfully managed to ignore boat jobs, by taking up lots of new interests. I dug out my Nintendo Wii and revisited some favourite games, such as Pikmin, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Mario Karts etc. It was great until I hit a glitch in Sphinx which meant restarting from the beginning…disheartened I packed the Wii away and moved on to my next venture. The Rubik Cube. I have loved this firm favourite since its launch in the 80s and what better time than lockdown, to become a speed cube champion! Ok, my cube is a proper one, however, it is not a speed cube and I was never going to get my time down to 8 seconds…but after studying countless YouTube tutorials, I could regularly solve it in 8 minutes 32 seconds.
In between these hobbies, I was still churning out some tasty homemade pizzas, flatbreads and naan breads (all the same recipe 🤪) and also my take on chicken tikka masala.
Not long into lockdown, a few marina ladies, including myself, decided to meet on Saturday afternoons, to do some socially distanced crafting. While everyone else created fabulous craftwork, I managed to paint some stones (badly) with nail varnish and also a replacement wheel nut cover for my car 😊. It was fun though, the sun was out, we chatted, and it was something to look forward to. We still meet on Saturdays when we can, although, after a few sessions, didn’t bother to disguise our chatting as “Craft” and now call it “Ladies wot…”.
Restrictions slowly lifted and finally we could meet people outside of our homes again and non-essential shops could trade…woooo hooo I was straight off to Hobby Craft, who, considering they are a craft shop, had the most uninspiring queue ever, no glitter or stickers.
Time to buy some extra art stuff, I clearly needed an easel, fancy eraser and some high light pens. Drawing recommenced for a bit, I learnt how to draw a wrinkly eyelid and a plait, useful techniques indeed.
I decided the area under the gunwales, inside the boat, needed a revamp, so after much research on YouTube, settled on fake wood, self-adhesive vinyl. It’s really easy to use and looks fab. Next on the diy list, is glittering my kitchen cupboards and subway tiling my bathroom but that’s for another day.
The summer holidays happened. We went on a few cruises, pubs and restaurants reopened and life seemed a little like it used to; except I needed a new hobby to take me into the darker, colder months and what better than crochet? I dallied with crochet as an 11 year old and still remembered that one stitch I learned back then but now I know it’s called a “double crochet” 😎👌. I bought two hooks and 6 huge balls of wool. I decided I would create a beautiful blanket in a wicker basket pattern. Blankets are pretty big. After three rows, I put that to one side and thought I would start something a bit smaller. I love a beanie, so followed a YouTube tutorial and created a wonderful, woollen frisbee 😳🤣 Undeterred, I tried again. Three fails later, I changed YouTube tutors and finally made an actual beanie. Hurrah! It is a bit baggy; I mistakenly added an extra loop to each stitch but I am very pleased with it. I’ve even worn it off the boat, in public. I shall have another go but follow the instructions carefully this time.
Finally, after 215 days of being off work, I was needed for two mornings in my favourite school, last week. It actually felt amazing to be back. Thankfully, it is now half term and I am enjoying a well-earned rest after those two mornings 😴.
This brings me to the current day, 9th November 2020. Crochet is still top of the hobby list, alongside fitting a stove to the boat.
We have just entered a second lockdown and this time I can work, so it will be different for me. No-one knows for certain what the next few months will bring but I can guarantee, my non-working days will be filled with more crochet and probably some talents I haven’t yet discovered 😂 but by far, the best thing to have come from all of this, is the friendships I have made with the boaters on the marina and I will look back on that aspect of my personal lockdown experience, with genuine fondness and the hope that those friendships will flourish and continue into the future.