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  • Kate

So uh, we had another lockdown.

Not gonna lie, by lockdown number three in November it was more surviving than thriving, as the lack of posting can show. Plus honestly, what was there to talk about? I would call my parents every weekend and we'd talk about the weather, what's for dinner, and how everything sucks. Not exactly inspiring thoughts for writing about. To be fair though, this was still when the UK government was attempting tiers that differed across the country.

This is what happens if you don't keep your countertops clean.

You've got to stay busy though or you'll go completely mad, and so I returned to many, many Zoom calls, completing the cycle of printing for a few weeks and then repairing the 3D printer for a few weeks. Oh, and eBaying the finds from our Marie Kondo-ing. Still doing that now to be honest - it's slow going but it beats putting good things in the bin and creates a nice little pot of play money. I signed up to be a volunteer for the Novavax trial, but by the time of my appointment for a jab they'd actually had so many volunteers to do it that they'd run out! As it stands now, I'm constantly checking to see when the NHS website will announce vaccines for 31 year olds. They're down to 38 now. Maybe they'll get to me by June?

We even had Tom Turkey!

We had Thanksgiving just the two of us this year. I can't recall now if it was because the rules had changed again or if we just couldn't get folks safely over. M made a really good show of trying to make it as normal as possible, including cheesy decor, copious amounts of food, and a recording of the previous year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (though the wild commercials were sadly lacking from that particular YouTube video). I meant to watch the socially distanced version they did for 2020, but in the end it just felt so surreal and just a little depressing that I never got around to it.

December arrived and the government said we might just get some form of Christmas this year after all. Even managed to book a pre-Christmas hair appointment - wouldn't know that would be the last one for four months. Think I managed about three inches worth in the end there. And then we got the announcement three days later that Christmas was cancelled. The first Prime Minister to officially cancel Christmas in nearly 400 years. And close enough to the day that people had already bought food for group gatherings and made plans to go places. In retrospect we all should have known there would be a horrific spike in cases of the virus, but I guess we all had hopes for the proverbial Christmas miracle.

Fireplace For Your Home is the real hidden gem on Netflix

Back to the screens again, we did okay all things considered. Actually, I think we spent more time talking to more family than we would have in person, which was really nice. Also, all the kudos to Royal Mail and Hermes delivery folks for getting those presents that were meant to be delivered in person across the country in time to be opened for Christmas Day. We honestly weren't sure if they would make it in time with how closely the government cancelled any travel or socialising for Christmas.

The New Year began with M on call for the hospital, which meant a tame evening in. Though really, not sure how you could make it particularly wild stuck at home again. A fortnight in to the new year and M took that as a challenge for our fifth wedding anniversary by turning our house into an Austrian ski chalet, complete with melted raclette cheese. He even found fake snowballs and a ski board game, and the weather decided to play along and provide some actual snow overnight. At the moment we still have the ski poster up in the kitchen. :p

The hospital has made a smooth drive through testing centre

Don't know where I caught it from, but I definitely caught something with a cough soon after and had to do a drive through covid test. It was negative thankfully. In fact, the only positive to come out of this was M getting a new car and me getting the Mini as my own little chariot of freedom! Couldn't really use it as we were under a firm lockdown at this point, but having the option to be able to get out and go was a good comfort at least. Living in the suburbs, especially when public transport becomes scarce makes you go insane from the tedium of everything being the same stuck at home. There was a brief period in early February at least where the Beast from the East decided to come back and we ended up with SO MUCH SNOW. It felt oddly localised after day one, like it decided Colchester would make an excellent dumping ground.

Honestly, there was like a 3-4 week period there where it just felt like a a period of existing. The lack of sunlight and warmth plus being stuck inside was really, really hard. On all of us. Somehow M and I managed to get all my paperwork ready for my visa renewal in all of this. And somehow the UK government decided that because it was for indefinite leave to remain that *in the middle of a pandemic* they needed me to come bring them the paperwork and get my photo taken in London. So I got to take a train journey for the first time in nearly a year. It was the most exciting adventure of the month.

Back at home, I decided that there would definitely be a shortage of plants for the garden this year (there hasn't been) and started growing them from seeds. I uh, may have gone a little gardening mad and took over all the south facing windowsills in the house with propagation trays and little seedling pots. This is a trend that I've continued, much to M's dismay, who is fully convinced I've planted way too many seeds and am going to run out of places to put them. We expanded our raised bed, and I'll be darned if I don't have an exploding English garden in there by proper summer! Saying that though, it's been a freakishly cold spring and I lost nearly my entire first planting in the garden bed due to cold weather. :( I even waited until April like suggested!

So the government has been slowly easing us out of total lockdown, and for our sanity M and I booked an AirBnb when we were allowed to again and ran away to Beccles on the Norfolk/Suffolk border for a holiday of sorts. It turned out to be a really good place for a pseudo lockdown holiday, as there is a lot to see outside in the area, and a lot of nice walks to be had in pretty little villages and towns. Would definitely recommend it if you're staying in the country and doing a UK holiday.

When we got back home we had a few more days of annual leave and treated ourselves with a trip to a pub! First time we'd been in one since I think October? Had a luxurious lunchtime meal and a pint. What a feeling - food and drink brought to you and you don't have to make it or clean it up afterwards. If nothing else, this pandemic has really brought home the importance of enjoying so many of the little things we've taken for granted or never really thought about because we were all moving too fast. I hope some of that sticks around after.

Ah yes, the weekend pile of prints to clean up

I suppose I'm mostly caught up with now. I mean, obviously so many other things have happened, but so much of it has been a shared experience that I'm not going to bother writing it all down in this. I'm still in the home office, trying to get a massive batch of 3D prints done for research, and trying to schedule any time with participants - a challenge still. Another challenge has proven to be mental health. Not in a self-destructive and dangerous way, but in a way that really should be taken just as seriously. We're all just surviving right now, not thriving. It's making us all a bit short with folks, and talking to friends and family can be a challenge - especially when there's so much nothing happening that nobody knows what to talk about anymore. I think that may be what I focus on in this website for a while. And hopefully learning to transition back into a thriving state. One day at a time.

-- Kate

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