Monthly Archives: April 2020
Coronavirus: Self-isolation week five
Reflecting on the past week, I remember a friend of mine who has died after becoming ill with coronvirus. Every day the death toll is rising and behind each number are family and friends who are grieving. All coronavirus related deaths would not have happened had this virus not existed and it’s heartbreaking to think how many people across the world have lost loved ones.
I have known Geoff most of my life; he was a fellow Manchester City fan who I knew from our supporters’ club and he went to games with my Dad. He was always kind to me and interested in my career. I shall remember him with affection. Only close family can attend his funeral, due to social distancing measures. It is with great sadness that I cannot pay my respects in this way.
This past week has also been lamentable because I should have been on holiday in New York. It became all too easy to think of “what if” scenarios – what I might have been doing at certain times had the pandemic not swept across the world. I actually saw the hotel I was meant to be staying in on Times Square in a shot used on a BBC news report about how New York has been severely affected with cases of the virus.
The lights are out on Broadway, where I was due to see the production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical comedy Company, after missing its run in London’s West End last year. The ticket price has been refunded but I am still waiting to be reimbursed for the flights and hotel bookings, which could take anything up to 90 days.
Musicals are great escapism during these uncertain times and I’ve been able to get my fix with a subscription to Disney Plus, which isn’t just about animated classics. There’s the Star Wars back catalogue, Marvel universe and National Geographic documentaries included too. During my annual leave, I’ve watched another of Sondheim’s works Into the Woods as well as Mary Poppins Returns. Two very different films, both I’d recommend.
Friday night YouTube screenings of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical have also been something to look forward to, while staying at home. This week’s was Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera. As a fan of the original I didn’t know what to expect of a new iteration but I loved it and may even catch it again before the link on the ‘Show Must Go On’ page expires this weekend.
Having more time on my hands, while in self-isolation, has also given a chance to bake more often than usual. (With usual meaning not at all.) I was previously quite daunted by it, after seeing elaborate showstoppers on the Great British Bake Off and other cookery programmes, I’d find any excuse to buy ready made baked goods from a shop. However, I’m amazed how simple some recipes are.
It’s easy to see why there’s a shortage of flour because it seems every man, woman and dog have been having a bash at baking banana bread. I’ve perfected my own version (pictured below) which has oats in and caramelised banana on top. Other tasty recipes that have gone down well include a tea loaf that’s made with marmalade and homemade ginger biscuits.
I’m back working from home this coming week, all that’s left to do now is finish wiring up the work computer and, all being well, I’ll be able to log in and access the internal BBC network. That should help workflow massively. I’ll let you know how it goes in next week’s update. Stay safe.
Coronavirus: Week four in self-isolation
The Easter bank holiday gave chance for a short break. My partner and I made the decision to do everything as close as possible to what we usually would. A nice meal, with a leg of lamb, flowers and an egg hunt around the garden. The biggest absence were the wider family but video calls meant that everyone could feel connected virtually.
Our family became a bit bigger on Easter Monday, as we welcomed new member George Patrick into the world. A symbol of hope in uncertain times, an appropriate Easter metaphor too.
The joyous occasion is also a reminder that, alongside helping coronvirus patients at increased capacity, NHS staff are still dealing with all the usual hospital admissions and doing so to an incredibly high standard. The service which Britain is so proud of.
We can’t visit baby George, he’s home and well, but has to isolate with his parents for 12 weeks. I’m further along the self-isolation timeline at four weeks plus. It’s going as well as it can do. The main side effect for me has been swollen feet. I’m not the most avid of walkers at the best of times but even walking around work and Carlisle city centre offers more daily exercise than working from home in a bungalow does.
As I’ve taken the decision not to leave the house at all during lockdown, I can’t make use of the Government mandated daily walk but have been trying to exercise at home. One thing I will never take for granted is how lucky I am to live so close to Morecambe Bay. There’s so many places I could aspire to visit once the peak of the virus has passed. What I would really like is to walk along the coast and soak up the views of the a Lake District fells in the distance once again. That’s first on a long list of things to do. Visiting the local takeaway for a kebab comes a close second though, I must admit.
A computer from work has now been delivered so, when that’s set up, I’ll be able to access the internal BBC systems a lot easier than I do currently, while working from home. A big thanks to my colleagues back at base who have input audio and scripts into the play out system and enabled me to help produce the breakfast show. When I’m up and running on the new kit I’ll be able to do everything I can usually do in the office.
However, I’ll be spending my fifth week of self-isolation on annual leave. It’s been booked for a long time because I was meant to be flying to New York. Once it became apparent that my holiday of a lifetime wouldn’t be taking place yet, I decided to keep the annual leave because it’ll be good to have time off and mental break, if nothing else.
My week “off” will mostly be spent in the back garden, where the weather forecast looks good. It offers time for quiet contemplation, to make sense of this strange period of time we’re living through. Those personal admin type tasks, that always seem to get put off. And to jump on the baking bandwagon, after managing to somehow get hold of some flour. I’ll share how successful my attempts are with you next week. Until then, take care.
Coronavirus: Week three in self-isolation
I can’t help but feel reflective while in “lockdown”. Last Good Friday, I was buzzing after presenting a music special on the radio called Eclectic 80s. This year I haven’t left the house for three weeks. It puts everything into perspective about how different life can be from one period of time to the next.
My fiancé was due to present a radio programme this Good Friday. He’s usually always on-air on Bank Holidays, that’s how we met when I studio produced one of his shows almost four years ago. The programme was postponed this year, due to alternative arrangements made because of the coronavirus pandemic. I know first-hand how much time and effort goes into planning these programmes, so hopefully it’ll make it to air after the outbreak is over.
For the past few years, Easter has always been very special. Not just for religious reasons but also because it allows for precious family time. As I spend Christmas Day with my parents at Easter I spend it with my partner and his children. It’s always an enjoyable time. Due to social distancing the family can’t be together this year, so it’ll feel strange. We’ll have a video call meet up instead and have plans to celebrate together as soon as possible, once the peak of the virus has passed and it’s safe to do so.
Lockdown during the pandemic is difficult for everyone; it’s something many of us have never experienced the likes of before. I’m trying to keep positive about my own situation in self-isolation but one of the reasons why it is hard is because, for the first time in my life, ‘underlying health conditions’ have literally stopped me in my tracks.
I’ve spent years making sure my quality of life can be on a par with anyone else’s and I’m fortunate that, usually, that is the case. However, at the moment, I can’t do what I want which is to go out and about and be part of a bustling radio newsroom. I can actually do quite a lot for the station from home though and soon a computer from work will be delivered, so I can access the internal network and that’ll aid my workflow even more.
I’ve got four days off over the Easter period and, while this would usually be a very busy time, I’m using the time it to relax and recharge. It’s been great to dig out my DSLR camera again to reacquaint myself with my hobby of photography. One of my garden wildlife pictures was used on a social media video for BBC Radio Cumbria this week and I was able to get a great shot, using an extended zoom lens, of the supermoon.
I wish you a peaceful Easter at home. This year’s will be a memorable occasion but probably not for reasons anyone could have anticipated. However, the religious comparisons are quite pertinent during this “lockdown”. These unusual times will pass and we will get our lives back again. A new beginning will come.
Coronavirus: Week two in self-isolation
If you would have told me by April I wouldn’t have left the house for a fortnight then, I’d have thought it was an April Fools joke! However, we’ve living through unusual times and we must all do our bit to stop the spread of coronavirus.
At the time of writing, I’m on my 18th day in quarantine and I’m taking it well. For a lot of people who have ‘underlying health conditions’, like myself, we’ve already been through quite a lot in our lives and I think that helps build up a resilience which helps deal with challenging circumstances.
My accounts of life in self-isolation were featured on the hospital radio station Bay Trust Radio last Saturday. I was flattered to be asked because I wasn’t sure the experiences I’ve been tweeting and blogging about have been very interesting! I have been wondering how long I may be able to keep up my daily Twitter diary, because the days are becoming quite similar and blending together, but I’ll try to keep it up as long as possible.
This time last year, I was a guest at a beautiful spring wedding in Cheshire. It seems like that was in a parallel universe to now, with gatherings banned. We all must not lose sight of why we are doing these social distancing measures though. The unpredictability of the virus means that none of us know how it would affect us, if we contract it.
My social media timelines are full of harrowing accounts of people who have lost loved ones to this virus, which really hits home the reasoning why we need to stay at home to stop the spread. I had a bad bout of asthma earlier this week, which can usually be rectified with an inhaler. I couldn’t help but think how frightening it must be for people who struggle for breath, if they have severe symptoms to coronavirus.
I’ve been working from home again this week, helping to produce the breakfast programme on BBC Radio Cumbria. It helps during self-isolation to provide structure and a purpose to my days. I’ve also been back broadcasting this week too; I sent over a report about birdwatching from the back garden, in honour of the RSPB’s ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’.
I live within the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the location certainly lives up to that name. There’s a plethora of birdlife to gaze at from nuthatches to chaffinches and lesser spotted woodpeckers. Roe deer from woods behind also make an appearance some evenings too. They’re so graceful to see that I can forgive them for munching on the plants.
My Mum and Dad are set up on their iPad now and have picked up using the technology very quickly and video calling them is a joy. Despite being adamantly against it, that shows what kind happen if you’re mind is put onto something. Speaking of which, I’ve dusted off the exercise bike to try to burn off some calories from the chocolate I’ve been eating. Apologies in advance but, in a weak moment, I have to admit that our Easter egg stash has been broken into.
The peak of the pandemic has not yet passed yet in this country, so this way of life is likely to continue for some time. I was speaking to a radio contributor earlier this week who said she doesn’t feel like she is helping the situation because it feels like she’s doing nothing. Staying at home is helping though and the more of us do this, only going out when absolutely necessary, the sooner this will pass.