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More precious than ever

Hilary M's contribution to our Stay Home collecting project

Our home is a 1930s semi in a suburb of Derby. My husband and I have lived here since we got married 40 years ago.

We brought up two sons here: they still live reasonably near to us. Until the lockdown we saw them and their partners often, now we have a daft quiz via Zoom.

We are very, very fortunate to have a garden: nothing special but it doubles as my green gym, especially when I'm digging and moving slabs!

Take part in our Stay Home collecting project

Note that says 'Dear friend, I hope your ok and your living well and your family is always thinking of you and how kind you're. Stay safe and don't get corona virus.'
Lovely note from a local child we don't know. Brought a lump to my throat.

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

It hasn't changed really. We, especially me, spend much more time in it than ever before. Being used to working from home, I still tend to sit at the dining table with my laptop when I'm working, as I need space to spread out lots of books and paperwork and now have meetings with colleagues via Teams.

My husband and I have always been keen cooks and bakers, and the pandemic has given us time to go through the kitchen cupboards and freezer and find things we can use in our meals (and throw out a lot of stuff that was way out of date!), plan our menus rather than put a meal together in a hurry at the end of the day.

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

It is my refuge, my entertaining space, a place to be with family, sit and read with a drink hot chocolate has become my (comfort?) drink of choice in the morning, with a gin and tonic in the shed at teatime on the lovely warm days.

My home is even more precious to me than ever now. We are lucky to have space and different rooms in which to sit, to be together or escape.

If it's raining we can dry the washing without having to sit with it, and can leave things half done (usually me) if we want to.

Until recently our younger son was back home living with us, and his partner joined us too. They moved out a month before lockdown so the house seems doubly quiet and lacking in energy now.

How does staying at home affect your relationships?

I really, really miss seeing our sons and their partners, my brother and family, and all my friends and work colleagues. It's awful not being able to give everyone a hug. FaceTime, and all the other electronic contacts are good, but nothing is like an actual face to face chat.

Being with someone 24/7 certainly highlights the annoying things about them, but knowing that you have to be with them 24/7 probably for the next few months means you hold your tongue to avoid the atmosphere becoming too strained.

Relationships with the wider family and some friends have probably improved as we've made an effort to keep in touch and have longer chats than we've had for ages.

Laundy hanging on a washing line in a garden
The garden has kept me sane and healthy, and happy on down days. It's ours!

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

It is warmth and comfort, it is space, it is protection. It's much quieter without the traffic, and the air is much clearer. You can really hear the birdsong all day.

Things I normally appreciate about our home is its proximity to town, the excellent bus services, local parks and shops. Now these are the things that make it frustrating because all those things are still there but out of reach for us at the moment.

How has lockdown changed your habits or routines at home?

Much more time to plan, prepare, cook and eat meals, although we have to rely on family and friends to shop for us which is frustrating.

Pressure to 'do stuff' is off. Can't go anywhere or see anyone so my time's my own to do what I want – luxury! I can take longer to do everyday things rather than race about doing tasks because I need to be somewhere. 

I'm learning how to use technology more, concentrating on how to grow things, taking more photos, keeping a diary, reading more, time to research for fun (and quizzes!), going out on my bike, cleaning out cupboards, bit of decorating. Maybe I will still learn to play the ukulele.


Person cleaning a greenhouse with a large brush
Finally got round to cleaning the greenhouse.

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

Great sense of community on a Thursday evening when we all go out in the street to clap for the NHS. The glorious sunny weather of lockdown's first month brought the neighbours out into the gardens which gave us lots of laughs and friendly chat and offers of help.

When I go out on my bike everyone I cycle past calls hello. I can text friends to come to their front door so we can have a chat across the front garden.

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