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A bird in the hand...

How 2020 went from gap year to scrap year

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   By Phil 

American director, writer, actor, and comedian Woody Allen once wrote: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."

As I sit here writing this article that quote springs to mind.

I spent a good part of last year telling all my friends (well boring them, actually), and anyone else who would listen, that 2020 was going to be my "gap year."

I hadn't had the luxury, as some youngsters these days, of taking time off once my exams had been sat. So I figured if I couldn't do it all those years ago, what better time than to do it now?

My wife Karen retired in October last year, so 2020 had to be the year that we did just what we wanted, right?

We had mapped out some of the places we wanted to visit. We even booked to go and see Status Quo in concert (something that has been on both our bucket lists for some time).

Now, six weeks into lockdown, the year has taken on a whole new look. It will be a year to remember, alright, but not for the reasons we had planned.

And after Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned that without a coronavirus vaccine it is 'wholly unrealistic' to expect to return to normal soon, we are faced with a life being dubbed by many government ministers as "the new normal."
So what has life in lockdown been like? For many people gardening has been a lifeline. Me, I come from a family of gardeners, but I can't abide it.

Don't get me wrong, I love our garden. I could sit in it and wonder at the beautiful plants and flowers for hours. But work on it? Please!!

Some of the planned "gap year" was going to be devoted to my love of photography. I particularly like taking pictures of wildlife and, thankfully, that has taken up my time and provided me with many different images as I enjoy my daily period of exercise.

It is also heartening to know that wildlife is now thriving during lockdown. To hear the birds singing away to their hearts content is heartwarming. It has been a joy to see some amazing birds in the garden and on our walks.

Phils pic 1

Above: My picture of a swan chasing a goose at Melton Country Park and below a Little Egret.

phils pic 2

One of my favourite pictures, taken recently around Melton Country Park, shows a swan chasing off a goose. On the same trip Karen pointed out a white blob in the distance. I am fortunate in that I have a small Nikon camera with an amazing Zoom lens on it. It was not expensive I am told (it was a Christmas present) but it magnifies things which I wouldn't normally be able to see with my poor eyesight.

I wasn't sure but I had seen a picture of a Little Egret recently in a book (a species of small heron most common along the south and east coasts of England and in Wales). Yes, no mistaking it now. He was a bit off course but happily sitting in a tree in Melton.
And, after mentioning the word Zoom, it brings me on to the subject of church "meetings." I must confess I had never heard of Zoom before the pandemic. Since then everyone has been trying to get to grips with "new technology" as never before.

I suppose one thing the current situation has taught me is that you can learn anything if you put your mind to it. So Sunday morning (and also Thursdays if you log into Brian Wray's online coffee mornings) now consists of setting up the laptop on the dining table and dialling in to the Revd Kevin's services.

I have been especially heartened to see so many people managing to log in each week and we are averaging 80 plus people in attendance. More people are visiting the website too, which is again heartening.

I hope when we get a glimpse of what "the new normal" is that we come to appreciate the things around us more... our friends, family and loved ones and to be grateful and content with our lot.

Do I have plans now for 2020? I'm not telling... you never know who's listening!

3Life logo

Love it or hate it, life in lockdown due to Coronavirus looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. But how are you coping with it? Are you finding lots of things to do with your time, or are you struggling?

Here's your chance to let other people in the Team Parish know what the lockdown means to you and what you have been doing to fill your time. Perhaps you are spending more time on your garden, or perhaps you're reading some books. Perhaps you have even tried a lockdown haircut at home!

Whatever you have been doing we would like to know. If you have ever fancied trying to write something, now is the time to give it a go. We want to publish your article on the Team Parish website. It can be any length and it would be nice to include a picture, or pictures, if you can to illustrate what you have been doing. We will also be compiling a booklet, which we hope to publish once life returns to normal again, as a keepsake of what life was like for us all under the pandemic.

All you have to do to take part is email your story and picture(s) to Website Editor Phil Balding at: philloveskaren@yahoo.co.uk and we will publish them on the Team Parish website.

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