Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Hot air balloons by day, and Scrabble by night: Lockdown eases. by Anne Booth

Two days ago, last Sunday, our dog Barney made his first visit to a bookshop. It was so lovely for us all, as it was the bookshop our son works in. Because of the pandemic, we had not seen our son for months and months - we saw him last June, then a couple of days in September, but then lockdown came again and we  missed seeing him for Christmas, New Year, my birthday, his birthday,  and Easter - we have sent letters and cards and parcels and Christmas hampers and cards and a birthday cake.

We have had lots of zoom calls and facebook messages, and phone calls, we watched films together in our own homes and have been as creative as we could be in keeping in touch, and have actually had a lot of fun, but we missed him SO much, and worried about him, so, as soon as we could, we booked a self catering house and, together with one of his sisters and our lockdown puppy, we drove a few hours to where our son lives and finally met up again, and it was SO GOOD.

I also got to meet up with a walk with my lovely friend Virginia I haven't seen for a year. It was brilliant.

It was also so lovely going into a bookshop for the first time for months and months , and so lovely to introduce Barney our lockdown puppy to a shop.  It was so wonderful to see all the gorgeous books in their natural bookshop surroundings, and the atmosphere was so great. All the lovely booksellers were so pleased to see Barney, and Barney was delighted to meet such enthusiastic new friends. Barney completely bonded with our son, and I think he was having such a lovely time, with so many new experiences and people to meet. He also met my writer friend Virginia when she came to our holiday home garden, and he loved her. Everything was brilliant for Barney.

Until today. Poor Barney was happily playing with his squeaky ball in our holiday home garden, and a hot air balloon came down very very low, just over our garden, so you could hear the roar of the hot air,  and spooked him. He turned from a very bouncy puppy to a very overwhelmed and subdued one. 

Not the most flattering picture of me - but here is Barney having a post- hot air balloon cuddle (both of us are booked in for hair cuts in the coming weeks!).

We had to stay in the garden and socialise outside tonight , as our son is not officially allowed in our holiday home, so we all spent the evening outside in the garden having a meal and then playing scrabble by the light of mobile phones, and Barney was cuddled in our arms. He really took a long time to feel safe again. I hope that tomorrow he will feel completely better. 

I think this post lockdown experience can be overwhelming for puppies AND people. It is so wonderful to do things like go into bookshops again, and to meet up with people we love, and meet old and new friends. It is wonderful to go to new places, but we mustn't be surprised if at this time, even if we are lucky enough to be happy, we feel exhausted by little and big things. I didn't need to be traumatised by a hot air balloon to feel really overwhelmed  just by going into a bookshop for the first time, even though it was such a happy thing to do. I did what the NHS and government have asked and stayed at home. As a writer who works from home, I have not gone anywhere really for over a year - I have basically stayed in our village, apart from 2 nights away last summer.  I hope if anyone else is feeling very exhausted, they remember that things have not been, and are not yet, completely normal again, so it is normal to feel this way. 

One lovely thing we did tonight, which we have never done before, and would not have done if rules had allowed us to meet indoors, was play scrabble in the dark in the garden - as the night fell, we did it by the light of mobile phones. This time is still uncertain and worrying, and there has been so much loss, and tragedies in this pandemic, but I am so grateful for things like the zoom calls and the creative ways to keep in touch, and that we can finally start meeting up with friends and loved ones, play scrabble in holiday home gardens, and that bookshops are open to visit again.


Joan Lennon said...

Thanks for this, Anne - and Barney is beautiful! I hope he has forgotten all about strange noises in the sky.

Becca McCallum said...

Aw Barney looks lovely! I love the idea of playing games outside in the darkness. I suppose that's one thing this pandemic has given us - we've all got a lot more used to being outside doing things we wouldn't normally think of if we weren't forced to stay out.