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Covid Chronicles Ann & Maggie’s Christmas Newsletter 2020

18 December 2020

Commute to computer

I had no problem throwing the switch to digital. I absolutely love it. No time spent on travel, a six step commute from bedroom to office whilst pulling on a suitable top, meetings where you only have to worry about brushing the front of your hair and no one knows if you are wearing a bra! Bliss.

Increase in productivity

I have always enjoyed multi-tasking and Maggie says I am capable of a prodigious work rate. I’m not making any claims on either front. However, I think I’ve had quite a productive year. I’ve done a fair amount of writing which I have loved. I don’t know if anyone reads the stuff but I do it for my own interest and intellectual enjoyment. The impact of Covid on all the charities and organisations I’m involved in (Helena Kennedy Foundation, Scouts, City & Guilds, Arts Council, The Stables, UK Innovation Corridor, ENTRUST, Athenaeum) has meant many more meetings - all virtual - but everyone has risen to the challenges magnificently and I am incredibly proud of all they have achieved.

Haiku whilst exercising

I amazed myself by completing Couch25k during the long Spring lockdown when I couldn’t continue my Channel swim in my local pool. I am not really a jogger and this experience didn’t turn me into one but it was lovely to be outdoors and I now walk most days. When pools opened again, I resumed my fundraising Channel swim at Wolverton Leisure Centre, reaching France. I almost got back too, completing 38 miles in total, whilst composing haiku as I swam!

no need to compete

or win, just swimming in the

Presence is my prize’

Introverted home birds happy in each other company

We don’t go out without our masks - and well basically we don’t go out much. That suits us as introverted home birds. By order of the NHS, Maggie had to shield during the long first lockdown and notwithstanding the awfulness of what was going on, we had a lovely time being at home and watching a warm and glorious Spring flower into Summer. We rarely ventured far and when we did it was a ‘tootle’ in the car to our favourite Buckinghamshire churches (closed of course so no one was around), woods and villages, taking the occasional gentle walk to make sure Maggie got some exercise. We gave Barnard Castle a miss.

No Lindisfarne, No skiing No family Christmas lunch but solidarity in Stony Stratford

Lockdown meant we missed our annual holiday and retreat on the isle of Lindisfarne which should have taken place in the first two weeks of May. II have been unable to go to Austria this month for my pre-Christmas ski with my Athenaeum chums. It is a small price to pay for safety.Over summer I installed a large paddling pool in the garden to which I retreated to soak in the sun with a glass of Chablis - attending the odd virtual meeting whilst secretively placing the odd bet and watching the nags on my iPad, once racing resumed. Skiing in MK’s snow dome isn’t an option when you’ve taken to the slopes of the Tyrol, so I’m giving that a miss too.

Our neighbours in Willow Lane have been heroic, helpful, and heart-warming. Two enterprising women set up the Willow Lane WhatsApp Group and everyone swung into a concerted burst of communitarian camaraderie. People did our shopping, collected Maggie’s medications, and delivered flowers and chocolate eggs at Easter. We could not have wished for more.We all celebrated the VE Day anniversary outdoors and at the end of the long lockdown, our neighbours put on a socially distanced open air cinema, complete with usherettes and popcorn. We sat and enjoyed a drink watching the sun go down and the big screen come alive to the sight and sound of ‘The Greatest Showman’. We shall stand outside our house once again on Christmas Day with our carol sheets joining the whole town in Stony doing a socially distanced festive sing-along – and then retreat indoors to our Christmas dinner ‘a deux’ and hours of Victoria Wood repeats on BritBox

Love the NHS & key workers

Our love for and appreciation of the NHS and all other key workers knows no bounds. Maggie took to personally thanking the rubbish collectors each week and we stood in the street to clap with the nation - enjoying an opportunity to see and chat to other households. We have had to make some visits to hospital for Maggie who has also had video consultations with the doctors by iPhone and everyone in the NHS has been beyond marvellous. We are deeply grateful and feel immensely lucky. Maggie’s health remains precarious but she is uncomplaining and stoic.

Virtual Quaker Meetings

Although the Milton Keynes Quaker Centre has been mostly closed since March, F/friends have met via Zoom for a Sunday Meeting for Worship each week . It’s been a lovely weekly connection point - silence and stillness in cyberspace. We have continued with all other related activities, including our annual Winter retreat which took as its theme ‘God comes to you disguised as your life’ (Paula D’Arcy) and which, if interested, you can read my contribution to this in another blog on this website

Tender Hands Care Home

As well as continuing to love my work, I have also had a lovely time in our house and garden - or the Tender Hands Care Home as Maggie and I christened it. Mind you, she says it must be the best care home in Buckinghamshire as she is well looked after and provided with a daily choice of delicious, freshly prepared organic meals – courtesy of chef and with grateful thanks to Riverford and Waitrose.

Merry Christmas

We decided to send out by post individual Christmas cards to our families and friends (although Maggie says her list is diminishing!) in the hope that they will bring you some personalised festive cheer. We are certainly grateful for your cards and news – thank you for staying in touch and if you are in the vicinity of Stony Stratford, please do call and see us next year once it is safe and legal to do so.

Health and Peace in 2021

We hope 2021 will see you receiving your vaccination as soon as possible - to keep you in the pink, bring pleasure back to your life, and as ever peace of mind, body and spirit – which may one day lead to world peace. We live in hope.

With our love and gratitude for your part in our lives

Ann and Maggie