How did you deal with it?
For some, especially front line workers, it was hell. Other folk, particularly those self-employed or that depend on tourists to live and pay bills are left staring into a deep dark hole and for the big portion of the country, it was the worst holiday of their lives.
Months without the pub, school, work, sport, friends, family, concerts, curries and freedom.What was the thing you missed the most? More importantly, what was the thing you discovered and are secretly praying that lockdown continues for few months so you can keep enjoying it.
When I started swimming in Lochs my life changed dramatically. I don’t think it’s just a middle age thing as I think it would have been the same if Judo or base jumping had been discovered. Maybe my heed realised this was a massive life junction and why it compelled me to start recording swimming events in this collection of 3am written blogs. Basically all this writing is about how I try to stay sane and 90% of them, including this one are concerned with getting submerged in cold water. I just want to say before this gets into the middle of the water. this is just a censored record, a kind of polished version of how I dealt with lockdown. How it’s remembered (from a bloke that struggles to recall why he got off a chair and walked to another room) the start of this virus business seems ages ago. That’s my first excuse if yeh manage to get to the end and are left thinking “what a bawbag”
The weekend before lockdown we were invited a fair few hours up north for a couple of nearly relaxed days or at least try to be as it felt like we were living at the start of a disaster/horror movie. Arriving home with guilt from newspaper and TV headlines of unwanted 2nd home owners/visitors to beauty spots and the possibility of infecting the friends we met.
I vowed to start towing the line and try not to be like a government advisor and think the rules only apply to everyone else. Picking the cleanest bucket to use as a swimming pool and pulling out the cardboard was easy.
Surviving on a boat offshore for weeks at a time, staying sane and not gaining a buckled heed with a 10,000 yard stare, is about routine. Keep busy. Find interest even in the most mundane tasks.
That’s what we set out to do, Clare transitioned from office to home without a hitch, me and the boys started on jobs that had been neglected and had let slide for the last 15 years whilst running about taking the them to activities and filling the big shed with personal toys.
My lockdown day began getting up early for an online yoga class, making breakfast, then jumped into the bucket for 15mins.Work would start at 9am. Painting the inside of the house cutting in the edges and rollering the walls, trying to keep paint off the furniture.
It started out fairly easy with the first toast and biscoffe spread break at 1030 , lunch was midday leaving time for a quick break before finishing at 3pm for xbox and YouTube rewards.
This went well, in fact to well, until the realisation that this would be for a few months instead of a few weeks. Work days and wages were reduced and with decent weather we went for a couple bike runs and had a few games of Yahtzee in the tent, sleeping in the back garden .
It was chilled, until the painting job was finished and I decided to build a green house. It started off relaxed, well that’s a lie. A shed load of money was spent on massive planks of wood and screws with no real plan. A few days of chewing my lip and scratching my head, breaking out some crayons and coming up with a very rough plan, before the power tools were dusted off. We set about building, taking apart, rebuilding, then building and building more, taking apart, redesigning, take more apart, taking it all apart and starting again, it was the perfect lesson for our boys on how not to build a greenhouse. You get the idea, pretty much two steps forward ten miles back for every outhouse idea. A phone call from the other side of the Atlantic with potential end of my lock down and airplane flight ramped up the building a hut stress. There were some long working days, where I was glad of the light until 10pm, the shed with a few windows was finally finished.
Two months later Clare is happily harvesting salad leaves and cucumbers, and when she smiles, all the hard work and stress is forgotten.
Yeah yeah, you never tuned in to read about our lockdown house prison and wonder why the tomatoes aren’t doing as well as other plants, you want some nonsense about swimming.
It only took 2 weeks of confinement before my self discipline collapsed and I ventured into river at the bottom of the street. Having not eaten chocolate for ten years and excluded pot noddles from my diet for 9 years, I thought my restraint may have lasted longer. I was still doing the bucket in the mornings, infact, it lasted over 6 weeks until a leak appeared after a wee bit of rough treatment, when it unbalanced and fell over during a water emptying and cleaning episode.
After the first night in the river, it became a regular occurrence, like Mrs Doubtfire wearing headphones, I bounced up the street just as the sun started to dip in the sky. I was fully head to toe in wool, Ugg boots, leg warmers, kilt, woolly hoody and sheepskin bomber jacket and a nod to sustainability, most of the items were gumtree or eBay used purchases.
Clare would accompany me for a walk on a nice evening with a wee bit wind to keep the wee beasties away. These swims were not advertised on social media suspending my habit for the previous 6 years of swimming with a post of a nice photo and a getootside hashtag. The Fun Police were at def-con 4 alert. It wouldn’t matter that the river was generally just above knee high when I ventured a few hundred metres upstream. We were in lockdown and I was surprised I wasn’t reported for going 2 walks a day never mind a wee risky river Forth dookin.
Anyway the household upgrades had to come to an end when flight details came in and I landed in the land of the free, brave and highest Corvid infection rate in the world. Quarantine and brain tickling swab allowed me on the boat.
A few weeks later we sailed from Fort Lauderdale to The US Virgin Islands the only Caribbean island out of global lockdown. Yeah, lockdown ended nearly as tough as it started.
I need to swim. I know that sounds selfish and privileged and no doubt there will be some folk reading this thinking “What a d?ck”.
I don’t think I am special or the rules didn’t apply to me. Like each and everyone of my swims in the past I try to mitigate all the risks, making sure I won’t need assistance. Yeah yeah, I caused a man hunt at the Old Bridge in Stirling once but I was safely at home when someone phoned it in. I am in no doubt of how poor my swimming technique is. I am the worst swimmer I know and there is an awareness of my mortality or more accurately,
The Fear – is constant.
It doesn’t sound much fun, granted and maybe that’s why swimming makes a big difference to me. It seems to be a form of meditation. I am fully focused on my bodies actions and reactions for the duration of the swim. Problems and to-do lists are forgotten…..really important stuff like, “do we have enough toilet roll”? or “will this pasta shortage continue forever”?…. Joking aside, I try not to chew my lip considering life’s affairs during a swim, there is no bigger or immediate issue than surviving the next few submerged minutes.
So my excuse for diving under the lockdown rules.
Swimming allows me to become a better version of myself. Its more than just showing a wee bit of respect and compassion for other folk. It seems it gives me a greater ability for empathy than I have ever possessed before. My family and friends will confirm that I was a freakin bombscare in the past. I am aware this writing contains a wooden hut load of “I’s” and “me’s” and reads pretty self obsessed but the descriptions in every blog are only a hint of how self-oriented I used to be. Coming off sugar over ten years ago has played a massive part in this transformation, but even constant monitoring of every tasty morsel entering my moo doesn’t keep my over sensitive emotional rollercoaster heed on track like a cold water immersion does.
I tried and failed to curtail swimming during lockdown. If you didn’t discover a way or activity over the last few months that helped endure to the chaos boredom and dislodge your focus away from schedules and promises for just a few minutes. Why don’t you try joining me for a socially distance swim? . The water is roasting…. maybe….
Come on, I could have asked you to give up sugar……you have gotten off lightly. Now go and get yer swimming costume and let’s #getootside.