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Absence of the grandchildren echoes

Gareth J's contribution to our Stay Home collecting project

We live in Hailsham. It's an extended end of terrace with four bedrooms.

It's just the two of us right now. Normally my stepdaughter also with Millie (8) and Oscar (5). Their bedrooms are silent except for the hum of their fish tanks.

Take part in our Stay Home collecting project

A garden table set with a game of backgammon, a book and a bottle of wine
Backgammon in the garden. This set hadn't seen the light of day for years.

In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic changed the way you use your home?

The grandchildren have moved to their Dad's (they are normally here 7 nights in 14).

Nicki is a nurse. She uses the front door, we use the back. She bags her shoes at the door having changed at the hospital, next she showers then stays in her room. Food on the landing. Wipes and soap everywhere.

Nicki usually gets home at 8pm on Thursdays for her own personal street applause.

We shop once a week only. Visit The Virtual Arms for quizzes. FaceTime group gathering on Fridays, the time that we used to meet in the pub.

How do you feel about your home? How have these feelings changed?

We love this house. It's been full of love and fun longer than we can recall. It's always cared for but the list is now done, inside and out, and we are on to 'projects'.

Being in so much makes you look all the harder. The house has stood the test. We have many photos on display, mostly of holidays.

The absence of the grandchildren echoes everywhere. We sometimes sit in their rooms sending love and hugs.


Garden ornaments in the shape of a butterfly and a meerkat
A bamboo butterfly, made at the request of Millie, aged 8. And Oscar's meerkat. He brought a log home from a woodland walk and asked for a meerkat.

How does staying at home affect your relationships?

It's odd. Family relationships have always been close, and remain so.

All four grandchildren send us photos and videos every day which I am pulling into to two vast powerpoints, which we then share across the family and with our parents. Mostly via dropbox but also on disk for those who don't use the internet.

We are talking to distant friends more, which is a bonus, and have embraced Skype and the others. This may well continue after.

What do you appreciate most about your home? What do you find frustrating?

It's spacious and sunny. Big enough for us to choose between warm and cool rooms and for us to have space when we want. The same is true of the two small gardens. We're actually fine. No real frustrations.

How has lockdown changed your habits or routines at home?

I live by lists. Each list starts with 'Make your list' then 'Clear social media'.

I've learned to make pies. My wife is memorising all the world's capital cities. We spend more time in organised activities together (much improved at scrabble and backgammon).

We are sleeping in longer and staying up later. Walking has become everyday as opposed to 2 or 3 times a week. Creative projects keep us busy.

Close up of a sliced pie
My first pie. I'm 60. Learned how to make pastry!

How is your sense of home affected by your neighbours or those living nearby?

This has actually improved considerably. We are always friendly but have never really engaged. Now we chat across driveways.

Our next door neighbour has organised street exercise (socially distant of course) and we are working on a VE day street party plan. We bump into other residents on the many walks and stop to chat. This will go on after, I'm sure.

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