So after approximately 12 weeks without the tedious 45-minute commute to travel a measly 6 miles to the office, I decided to reflect on what I have achieved with these invaluable bonus hours. What have I accomplished whilst not radio and lane hopping my way down the M60?
This is my moment to brag about my bread baking and the perfection of my painting skills and a firmer, flatter tummy courtesy of Tabata. But my work colleagues know me too well. Even on Zoom, my work family would spot the exaggeration, well actually the outright lies.
My commute-free reality is an extra 15 minutes in bed and extra cuddles with my kids. Maybe not shout-out-loud new life skills but a bonus all the same. And in this taxing time, you take what you can and count your simple blessings.
In my defence the last 12 weeks has seen me gradually morph into my mum. I am helping self-isolating neighbours (and know their life and love stories and even their names now) and I have become obsessed with filling my decking with blooming plants and Mediterranean pots. I am even attempting not to kill a tomato plant and two lettuces. In my head I’m trying to recreate a heavenly, cool Ibiza Beach Club scene with cream sofas and parasols where I will sip Mojitos, reading French novels while listening to vintage Moby.
In reality, the garden looks like a miniature unfinished Haven holiday park adorned with plastic toys, a creaking swing, a fluorescent trampoline, a deflated paddling pool, naked Barbies and Ikea pink plastic tables. With then Frozen soundtrack blaring out to complete the Havenly, very unheavenly experience.
But at least my unschooled children are happy. And that’s my main achievement for the COVID ridden Spring-Summer of 2020. That and hopefully a home-grown salad.
So, what has the rest of the UK been up to with their commute-less, holiday-less and furloughed free time?
Has it left you feeling restless, bored, anxious, chilled out – or motivated to learn a new language, improve your culinary skills, take up taekwondo or mediate your way out of the madness?
With so many online tutorials, apps and resources swamping social media and bragging WhatsApp groups, mastering the art of the down dog or honing haberdashery skills through to coding courses and building a drystone wall should be a walk in the park. And free.
Sales of breadmakers, portable pizza ovens, home brew kits, yoga wear and sewing machines are soaring. In theory, we should come out of COVID as a highly skilled, fit, calm – if not a little inebriated nation of individuals.
So, how have the rest of the Cameron Wells team livened up their lockdown?
Anthony reckons he is now fit for DIY SOS. After a crash course from the professionals, he can now lay an Indian Sandstone patio. And safely build a new slide for his son. Maybe stick to PR for a bit longer Ant…
Amid the mayhem of working, planning a house move, spending time with his daughters, Mano has still found time to write and record new music. Now that’s what I call male multi-tasking.
Cara, our wannabe Jane Fonda is now a Pilates convert and can also do the crow pose in Yoga which had always evaded her. When we eventually make it back to the office, we are fully expecting her to be wearing lycra and typing with her toes with her leg slung over one shoulder. Now that would be a lockdown life skill worth tweeting about.
Meanwhile, Debbie has been getting crafty and has made a pair of earrings and a cushion for a friend’s birthday. Watch out Notonthehighstreet. She has also been meditating to manage the madness of running a business remotely whilst juggling her cats, pro bono work and shopping for an elderly neighbour who eats more meat than a wild bear. Not the greatest COVID pastime for our vegetarian, animal fanatic MD. But as usual she puts her best pleather foot forward and gets on with it.
What Debbie and Cara don’t shout about is the selfless time and energy they give to helping elderly people living alone. They both volunteer for Independent Age and while they can no longer do home visits, they are still calling their ladies every week to check on their health and wellbeing and putting a smile on their faces with their craft, cat and yoga anecdotes. It’s good to talk. That old BT strapline still rings true – now more than ever.
Similarly, Jen has devoted much of her free time to helping Manchester & Cheshire Dogs’ Home with their website content and enewsletter to ensure that theses once unwanted dogs find their new forever homes.
So we’ve all been doing our bit and doing our best to perfect our lockdown life skills which may not change the world – but have changed ours.
I am a firm believer that good things happen to good people and these bunch are truly good. Proof that you don’t have to be ruthless in – or out of business. Brands that have been fair to their customers and used their clout and free time to do good during the crisis should hopefully flourish – and the bad will be flushed out.
Let’s live in hope that post COVID Britain will be smarter, healthier, kinder and more resilient. And I might have a self-sufficient vegetable patch.