Tag Archives: books

What I’ve Learned in Lockdown

As we are slowly coming out of this strange time, have I learned anything?

My initial reaction would be no, I’ve been too fearful, too worried and too anxious.

However, I really want to stay positive, so here are the things I have enjoyed:

You find out who your friends are

This is so similar to MS – you really do. Those you thought would stick by haven’t and vice versa. I called a friend weeks ago for a catch up and am still waiting the return call. In the same way, I have had the joy of catching up with people I haven’t heard from for ages.

Your Boss takes you shopping

He sourced and told me about the quietest shops and took me to them when I couldn’t get shopping slots. Along with my younger sister, who has been leaving food for me every week since this started, I am so grateful.

You have a garden

It’s random, filled with skip-dive plants and those rescued from home renovations, but I love it. I have never appreciated it more, now that we spend so much time at home.

Your son can cook

Yup, after he was told by his Uni to go home, he has been cooking a family meal once a week, a good chance for us to catch up and chat through everything that’s happening in the world.

Your son steps up

As well as finishing his Uni year, he’s also almost completed a 12 week contract with the biggest hospital in Wales, in housekeeping. I’m truly proud of him.

You keep writing

Despite the lack of coffee shops and places to write, I have had great support, especially from Russ Gascgoine, who has been sending messages to keep my writing on track. Not only that, we have had invaluable catch ups on the phone.

You teach Creative Writing online

We have run courses through MS Society Scotland and it’s been fantastic; we have uncovered hidden talents. Plus, we are starting a book club.

You shop local

Just that, shop local, if you can. For me, they are far easier to access than supermarkets and you know you’re supporting local businesses. As more shops open on Monday, I’m looking forward to staying local.

Telephone Bookcases

These have sprung up all over Cardiff and I take a bag of books every week (I’m reading a lot right now). Brilliant innovation and long may it continue after this is over.

For all of us, Covid has been problematic. If we can keep the togetherness that has bound us together over the last three months, perhaps we can look to a brighter, more local future.

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Mixing With The Literati…

booksWith Bill Clinton once describing it as the ‘Woodstock of the mind’, I was over-excited to visit the Hay-on-Wye Book Festival on Tuesday.

Months ago, a friend and I had booked tickets for our kids to see one of their favourite authors and so we headed up through the damp Welsh countryside to the London literary outpost for a day of intellectual thought, musings and trying to grab the last seat in the cafe as we sheltered from the thundering rain.

The Teenager was suitably impressed that his talk would be held in the Google-sponsored tent (result) and at home later told me in reverential, hushed tones that the author had been ‘mint’ and had inspired him to read more (another result).

Anyway, we wandered around and settled down in the tented area for a picnic lunch, eschewing the over-priced venison burgers and alfalfa salad. I was dismayed to note that almost everyone, and I really do mean everyone, was in Hunter wellies and green wax jackets. My own boots were letting in water and squelched every time I walked.

Children with long, wild hair were happily munching on celery sticks and holding onto their crowns, made in the kids craft tent. Our kids, on the other hand, made a nuisance of themselves by pilfering the free cheese samples, going back again and again, claiming they needed yet another freebie for various fictional elderly relatives.

With two of our kids safely offloaded into the Google tent, we had a coffee, having sneaked into the ‘Friends’ tent. Apparently if you pay £25, you get priority booking and have a special ‘Friends’ queue at each event, a kind of highbrow ‘Fast-Track’ ticket you can buy at amusement parks. ‘Friends’ proudly displayed their special ID badges and elbowed past us at high speed.

It’s suitably apt that Hay is twinned with Timbuktu. It really was an out of the world, strange experience. Apparently the late singer-songwriter Ian Dury rewrote the lyrics to ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ at Hay in one of his last concerts – the famous line reading, ‘From the gardens of Babylon, all the way to lovely Hay.’ We ended our great day with chips from the chippy made  famous by the DJ Chris Evans, who marveled at the fact they use a spray gun to slather the chips in vinegar. Who says we ain’t highbrow?

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