Since my last post, the initial shock of my daily life being flipped upside down subsided somewhat, and Liam and I made the decision to move to Sheffield as planned. Our lovely new landlords even brought the date forward for us because we began to panic that by our move date of 27th March, there may be restrictions of movement in place. Tonight we sit in our lovely new home, reflecting on all the changes in the last week!
Earlier on in the week, I began to fear, like many others, that food supply chains would be affected by the virus. Driven by worry about moving to a new city with zero pantry supplies and no knowledge of local shops, I started to ‘stock up’ (stockpile?!) on kitchen and house essentials, such as toilet roll, rice, herbs and spices, shampoo etc etc. Throughout the week, it became apparent that people were panic buying, and everything started to come into short supply. By the end of the week, eyes wide, I drifted down a bare supermarket aisle for the first time in my life, empty shelves staring hungrily. Today I went shopping in Sheffield (full shelves!) and experienced people really paying attention to social distancing. Awkward avoidance dances with strangers in the frozen foods, the shock of bumping into someone by accident at the end of an ailse, nodding your heads apologetically is the new currency in British politeness.
The Tory party
Perhaps the most disturbing change for me, having had my head buried in social policy since I was 20, is the changes in the Tory party. When Boris Johnson announced his package of support last week, I really stated to worry. If the Conservative Government was acting like it had finally located Corbyn’s magic money tree, then there must be real problems. I am not complaining; I am delighted. I am not going to waste any energy on being critical of how our Government is acting at this time, I just have to believe they have got this as right as anyone could get an impossible to predict global pandemic.
It makes me sad though… as the veil has fallen and the lies of austerity policies have been embarrassingly laid bare, caught in the act, for all to see. Teachers, nurses, public sector workers everywhere have gone on strike for months on end and endured bitter negotiations for minuscule pay rises. People have died from cuts to social welfare. Libraries, parks, public services have been closed down. Our society has been impoverished, our health and social services have been stripped out. And yes, after all that rubbish about reducing the budget deficit, it really is glaringly obviously true that you can actually just spend shitloads of money to improve people’s lives. Austerity was always about ideology. I hope people see that now.
That being said, I am happy just to hope that the Conservatives can learn a lesson from all this. I hope we all do.
Saying bye to family before the move
Moving to a new City… I always imagine these farewell drinks, hugs with family, last minute coffee dates with friends. Promises of ‘see you soon!’, ‘we’ll come and stay’ or ‘I’ll be back loads’. The absence of these social norms left a hole in my heart, and I had an emotional couple of days before the move. It wasn’t going to be see you soon. It wasn’t going to be, come and stay.
The reality of saying bye to my mum from a safe distance of two metres, popping her mothers day present and card in the recycling bin to decontaminate from my sister’s saliva when she licked the envelope…. for 48 hours…
The reality of running away from sister’s dog when it leapt out the house to greet me. Having a chat with my Dad through his living room window, whilst he tried to calm the dog who was waiting by the door for us to come in.Socially distanced walks in the park with Liam’s family. No cuddles with my niece and nephews.
The Bright Lights of Sheffield
So we wanted to move to Sheffield for the awesome climbing walls, the pubs, concerts, restaurants, cinemas and wide range of activities. We moved to explore the parks and be close to the Peak District, to be close to all the national parks in Wales. Instead, we find ourselves in a new city but we can’t explore it! Fortunately for Liam and I, who for the past two years have either been living in a tiny one bedroom attic apartment, or with Liam’s parents, or… on the side of a road whilst cycle touring, having a three bedroom house with a garden, all to ourselves, feels like a huge adventure all on its own! We have been enjoying being reunited with all of our possessions and spreading out across an entire house!
Unable to go out to eat or sample any of the local nightlife, we treated ourselves to a moving in takeaway. Liam is delighted at the enormous range you can get in Sheffield! The Just Eat options are much more varied and I even found one I liked. A delicious Greek!
The new landlords are also amazing, and greeted us to our new home with a present of a beautiful plant pot in the garden and a vase of flowers in the kitchen. The house itself is utterly beautiful and we feel beyond privileged to live in it. Within half a day of being here, we’d already met about five sets of our neighbours and introduced ourselves from afar! The area seems really friendly, and there is a local park a ten minute walk away down a river walk. We enjoyed an afternoon stroll in the sun, taking care to stay two metres away from passers by.
It is funny to begin our lives here in this manner, but I am appreciating the rolling hills, the views, the new house, the neighbours and the space.
Parcels, internet and supplies
One of the problems with moving in this time is that we have needed to buy items for the house! One of the weirdest moments for me was realising that Amazon Prime no longer means that your parcels will arrive the next day. Or at all. Funny that my benchmark for civilised society is based on Amazon delivery reliability. I had my first major breakdown of the Coronavirus Pandemic when my parcels, containing kitchen sponges and storage jars, did not arrive!! I started to question everything. Nothing can be relied upon any more. I felt unsafe.
We have a delivery scheduled for our Broadband Router in a few days time. Will it come? Will we have the internet? We need it because we both work from home, and also to stay sane in the coming months of isolation. Will it arrive? I don’t know. If it doesn’t arrive, can I really complain? Will there be anyone to complain to?
All of this post has been a general reflection on the move, and life in the time of Coronavirus. I have tried to keep it lighthearted, and to steer away from the topics that really trouble my heart, such as the health of my loved ones. I just wanted to add this in case anyone is reading this and thinking I need to address my priorities.
I am trying to stay as positive as possible, and take each day as it comes. To find the small joys, and do normal things, like setting the table nicely for dinner. It makes me feel safe and happy. Wishing everyone the best at this time. Available for Skype dates.