Coronacoaster

Hello! How are you bearing up? It’s day two hundred gazillion in the weird, unsettling, up-and-down pandemic world and here at acoastalplot we’re coping with the current state of the nation in our own ways with varying degrees of success. I haven’t written a post for over a month because I have had neither words nor energy – I’m not sure I have words now, to be honest, but I felt like dropping in, sharing a few photos and and having a little brain ramble, so please bear with me.

Work has been incredibly busy. I don’t think I have ever worked as intensely or been so challenged. I’m not a front-line worker – I haven’t had to go out to work like nurses, cleaners, teachers, refuse collectors, lorry drivers, cashiers, or any of the other wonderful people who have kept the country going. I am working from home on the phone and at my computer as part of the community hub, helping people who live in this area to access food, medication and all the other forms of support that vulnerable people need, particularly if they are shielding and live alone. People are frightened, lonely, poorly, confused, frustrated, cross, grateful. Some calls take 10 minutes; some take over an hour. I’ve had conversations that have made me laugh with lovely people who are grateful that others care and conversations that have left me tearful and shaking with a fury that we should be doing better. As a country, we should be doing better. I won’t go into a full-on political rant here, but the pandemic has shone a light onto the chronic deprivation and the failure of successive governments to fund social care and other support networks. It has also highlighted the incredible volunteers who do far more than could be reasonably asked of them, who keep many of the caring organisations going. If it wasn’t for these amazing people, we would be even further up shit creek without a paddle and in a leaking boat.

And on top of all this, there was the murder of George Floyd. The graphic and horrifying images of his death were heartbreaking and difficult to watch. Shame on us humans. Shame on a nation where the police – who are meant to uphold law and order and keep people safe – can behave in this way. There has been much social media outrage and people giving their opinions and judging other people for their opinions. Who am I to add my opinions to the fray?! I am a privileged white woman who has not personally experienced racism. But I do know that it is wrong, wrong, wrong and I will do anything I can to counter it. We should rage against it all.

Yes, we should rage but there has to be respite from raging. Otherwise we’d all  suffer from a collective breakdown. My three darling children – young adults – veer between rage, despondency, boredom, hysteria, positive motivation, despair and stupefaction. We are doing our best to help them navigate a way through this but we’re feeling our way too. Some days, when the sun is shining and the fridge is full and funny things happen are good days; some days when you hear about a friend who’s ill, or you make the mistake of watching too much news and the house is a tip, are bad days; some days are just flat, meh days. It’s not easy. I quite often want to get in the car and drive somewhere, anywhere, far away, or stay in bed and pull the duvet over my head, but I can’t. We have to keep on keeping on. Do the laundry, clean the toilets, wash the dishes, cook the food… And while doing all this, we might as well try to do it to the best of our ability and enjoy it.

We have drawn up a weekly rota for cooking the evening meal – David and I each cook twice a week and each kid does an evening – and we’re experimenting and widening our repertoire. Stand-out meals have been a fragrant daal spicy with roasted butternut squash and flatbreads, a spaghetti carbonara made without cream and roasted salmon with turmeric rice; all absolutely delicious. David has been baking bread and croissants and Harriet has been baking brownies, biscuits and cakes… My waistline has expanded. We also drew up a cleaning rota but the less said about that, the better.

And the weather… Thank goodness for the sunniest May on record. It has been flipping fantastic to lie on the grass in the sunshine and gaze at the blue sky, or sit on the steps and watch bees busily going from flower to flower. We’ve been gardening, of course, sowing and growing veg and watching our little orchard maturing. It’s been wonderful to escape outside to pull a few weeds, see the progress in the veg bed, tend the roses, pick the wild strawberries and just sit quietly taking it all in, soaking up that nature. Flowers are helping to soothe my fragile mind.

Since we’ve been allowed to gather with others outdoors, my parents have visited us a few times to sit at the front overlooking the sea and it’s been lovely to chat in person. We haven’t hugged each other, though, or been able to hold hands and that’s been weird. It seems very strange that holding someones hand could make them or you ill and be potentially life-threatening. But there it is. These are strange times, my friends.

Apologies for the rambling post. I hope you are keeping well and I hope you are having more up days than down days. Take good care of yourself.

 

24 thoughts on “Coronacoaster

  1. Hello. Lovely to hear from you again. I loved your post and your photos, particularly the grey/blue vase with all the pinks and purples. We’ve never met but you feel like a friend.

    You may be interested in a discussion I read online about the difference between ‘law and order’ eg as decreed in full caps tweets by Trump, thus allowing him to call on the police to deal forcefully with peaceful demonstrators, and ‘rule of law’, which suggests that no one is above the law and is about evenhandedness, fairness. I wish I could find the thread now because needless to say (menopause brain) it made perfect sense at the time but I find I can’t properly reproduce the argument now. But it made me think, and made me want to avoid the first term in favour of the second. (I was reminded when reading your post, but can’t find the thing that impressed me so on twitter now.)

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  2. A truly lovely post Sam and beautiful photos. The emotions you mention for your family ring very true here as well. And thank goodness for the glorious weather, it would be so much harder if it had rained the whole time. Your job sounds incredibly draining, you are an absolute star, I imagine it takes a lot out of you. As you say, volunteers contribute so much to society. Things would be a whole lot worse without them. Look after yourself my friend. I love your cooking rota, I’m very envious! CJ xx

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  3. Dear Sam: I have followed you on IG for ages and didn’t realize you had such a wonderful blog!!! Your pictures are, of course, stunning. My own blog. Hmmm. Well, I haven’t touched it since last November after almost ten years. And now I just might get back to it!
    You live in a truly gorgeous part of the world. I am in North Carolina. And yes, THAT MAN, in the White House has got to go. We are in a terrible state over here. November can’t come soon enough.
    And now, all I want to do is get over to the UK. We were supposed to be there this week. Our daughter lives in Manchester, having just been married in January to the most wonderful man. Well, you probably see my IG feed for updates!
    I will subscribe now !

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  4. Sam – thank you so much for posting this. And far from ‘not being on the front line’, clearly you are. The voluntary work that you and others like you are doing to support your own community is a crucial part of what is helping ordinary people get through this and prevent even more people falling through the official safety nets. This crisis has highlighted so starkly what a pared-down state looks and feels like, and it’s not pretty.
    I think it’s really really important that you do take time out from it all, and from the raging, to take care of yourself. If you were doing this job in a paid capacity for an organisation, they would have a health and safety duty to look after your mental health needs. I know from experience just what an emotional toll having difficult conversations relentlessly can take on you. So – don’t feel at all guilty about taking time out, and it sounds like you need more of it not less.
    All good wishes to you and your lovely family, and take care (and encourage them to take care of you too!) Deborah

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  5. I am glad you wrote this post as it makes me feel not quite so alone with my rollercoaster emotions! Like you, the garden is keeping me sane. But I fear for the sanity of loved ones far away from me in the UK. Your cooking sounds delicious. I will be looking for squash recipes soon… 😉 Take care and keep on keeping on! 🤗

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  6. Lovely post, gathering everything we all feel, but can’t always express into one space. It has been a roller coaster for sure. It has been a tragically sad time here in the U.S. Many are despondent, outraged, and judgmental. It is a shameful time for our country, and a time to wake up and make changes.
    Caught up in the constant protests and riots, the virus almost seems a thing of the past. I said, almost. For me personally, I don’t wear a mask, and I do go out, as many others are doing. I refuse to live in the fear that hovers over our planet and nation like a doomsday cloud. I need to live and I need something to be normal.
    You have given me thought. I don’t live in a gorgeous place by the sea like you do. I do live in a city suburb, a city with riots and curfews every night. But – I think I will take time today, to go lay in the grass of my back yard, pretend I’m a kid again, and just soak up all of God’s beauty and creation.

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  7. “Otherwise we’d all suffer from a collective breakdown.” Perhaps the African American protesters ARE having a massive, collective breakdown. We have had a boot on our necks for centuries. It is time we breathed.

    Such amazing colors! The views are spectacular. Most of my flowers are yellow or white. Surely it wasn’t be design. The pink of the crepe myrtle is startling and welcome. I love the things I see from the window in the room where I work. The Internet is the biggest window, offers a wider view, and connects me to the world. I’m thankful for everything.

    Be well.

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  8. Great post Sam with lovely photos. So many people are going above and beyond in this crisis. It makes your heart glad and is a decent antidote to the politicians and frustration of their reacting rather than leading and getting ahead of the game. We have a small cottage industry in the village providing thousands of cheerful ‘community’ cloth masks and raising considerable amounts of money for the NHS. Take care and continue to enjoy your garden!

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  9. You have summed up this time perfectly Sam. It is just so strange isn’t it? I wonder how it will feel this time next year? I am sure your work in your community is appreciated, but I can imagine it would be stressful also. As always, your garden and views are just gorgeous. Take care x

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  10. Such a thoughtful and considered post – I am so glad you found the time to write it. It expresses so much of what is going on at the moment, both in the UK and US as well as elsewhere. Well done on your valuable work in the community hub – the community spirit in the UK generally has been wonderful to see and I know in our village at east we would like to make sure it continues beyond the coronacoaster. Do continue to make sure you find time for yourself – we don’t want you burning out. Great photos as well

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  11. If ever there was a time to share our communal angst and despair, this is it. So, thank you for sharing with us. We are all hanging on for dear life (as my mother used to say) to the roller coaster and it’s stomach churning at the very least. I imagine the stay-at-home is hardest of all on kids the age of yours. Just when everything in them is primed for transitioning to adulthood and exploring the larger world, it’s snatched away from them. Very tough. I feel for you and for them. Take care of yourself and soak up that beauty around you. It helps.

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  12. Oh, those poppies! And the Nigella. How I wish I had some. Sounds like you are doing important work, and managing a very painful situation. I think the circumstances are very similar around here, and my views are also similar to yours. Important that you don’t let it drive you mad, that does no one any good. And so the flowers, baking, family meals, etc. are more important than ever.

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  13. You are speaking to my heart Sam. I have so far not found the words to describe how I feel and I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings, helps me process my own. I admire you for doing the work you are doing, supporting the most vulnerable in our society with kind words and practicalities is more important than ever. I hope you get the care you need, too so that you feel emotionally ready to start each working day again.

    I long to lie in the grass and gaze at the passing clouds. Alas, it is pouring down with rain. Have a lovely weekend xx

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  14. I enjoyed this thoughtful post and agreed with your many points, including that we should rage and have respite from raging. Lovely to see the poppies and the love-in-a-mists. I appreciate your good wishes and hope your week will be more up than down too.

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  15. Coming late to this as I’ve been avoiding screens in general. Your photos are balm to the soul – all those flowers! Makes me realise what a cold corner of the country I live in, as some things in my garden are just staring to bud, others peeping open, but a lot not yet doing anything. I felt the first stirrings of a wish to live somewhere warmer with a longer growing season. I really appreciated your words as well, but wryly noticed how your post points up the dichotomy in an online presence. Beautiful pictures with turmoil underneath. We need to realise that there are both. Looking at just beautiful images can be soothing, as long as we don’t fall into the trap of believing that everything in that little world we are looking at is perfect.
    Strangely I seem to be having my coronavirus emotional reaction now, as things start to open up (tho we are proceeding more cautiously in Scotland). Anxiety, a few tears, lots of fear. I seem to feel the emotions of our young adults acutely, one with us but starting to think about a return to London, one living alone in a large Scottish city. Their sense of loss – of friendships, of experience, of confidence and hope – takes my breath away sometimes.
    A huge well done to you for your work. Agree with everything you say about the need for a reset in our national life towards more caring and supporting. How many years until the next election….?

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