Covid Cometh

2020 started much as 2019 had ended: with lots of activity. In the first week alone I’d done the running club’s New Year hash, the Hampshire XC Champs, and a CC6 at Badger Farm, with another one at Janesmoor two weeks later. In addition to running, there was plenty of orienteering to be had, with events at Fritham, Star Posts, Denny Wood, Mark Ash Wood, and Black Water in the first couple of months. There was also SOC and South-Central Junior Squad training to attend.

Orienteering wasn’t restricted to the forest though. I went to a Wessex Night League event around Marchwood, and the club’s monthly MapRun events were still a regular feature. We put on January’s event in Eastleigh on what was a particularly damp evening. February brought a fiendish course around Badger Farm and Oliver’s Battery in Winchester with the added bonus that, with the children away for half term, both Christine and I could stay to the pub afterwards. Sadly their absence also meant an opportunity for me to redecorate the bathroom including my first, and hopefully last, attempt at plastering a ceiling!

There was a railway theme to this period, starting with a trip to the Signal Box in Romsey. We’ve probably passed the entrance road hundreds of times but never been in. It was actually quite fun and we whiled away an hour or more there. A week later, we went to the Southampton Model Railway Exhibition at Barton Peveril College. There were lots of grey-haired men in evidence but both the children enjoyed themselves. It then wasn’t long before Duncan had purchased himself some track on eBay to supplement the small loop he’d got for Christmas and we were fitting them to a large board, suitably sized to slide away under his bed.

March brought a couple of INSET days for Duncan. Christine took him to the BlueReef aquarium on one, I took him for a bike ride in the New Forest on the other. At least, it was a bike ride for Duncan. My rear derailleur snapped part way round and I ended up jogging along pushing my bike for about 5k until we got back to Lyndhurst where the bike shop shortened my chain. Having filled up on cake in one of Lyndhurst’s many tea shops, we then set off back to Ashurst to catch the train home. Certainly an adventure!

That weekend, we headed to Monmouth and this was the first indication in my diary of what was to come: “have to be on our best behaviour hygiene wise”. Covid-19 had hit the news and Christine’s Mum, who has an immunosuppressive disease, was potentially particularly vulnerable. We had a lovely, if blustery, walk up Sugar Loaf on Saturday and went to the CompassSport Cup event near Gloucester on our way home, where SOC qualified for the final.

The following day, the government announced that non-essential travel should be avoided at which point the JK and British Champs were cancelled. Two days later, it was announced that schools would close at the end of the week. Priority for online shopping being given to the elderly and vulnerable, I joined the long queues at the supermarket one morning to be greeted with shelves empty of staples (the stockpiling of toilet paper was to become a national joke). At the end of that week, we went to the library to discover it had closed the day before. That weekend, we went for a walk and a cycle ride – what were to become staples for the months to follow.

Home schooling started the next week. Emma was well-catered for with her secondary school continuing a regular timetable over Microsoft Teams. Duncan, meanwhile, was sent a few suggestions of things to do and left to get on with it. Another tradition of lockdown was born: a morning lesson over FaceTime with Granny Sue.

Perhaps the hardest part for us was the mandate that people could only go out once a day for exercise which often meant a choice between a walk with the children or a run. Running with the children zooming along on scooters was one solution. Cycling together with the children also became much more appealing as the roads were largely empty of cars. At least the weather was smiling on us and we were certainly grateful to have a garden in which to enjoy break times.

Leave a Reply