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Thursday 4 June 2020

Life in Lockdown in the Scottish Borders

We have been told that the Corona Virus Pandemic is the most serious crisis to hit the world since World War Two.  As family historians  we are good at recording the past,  but what about recording the present for future generations?  

CassMob (Pauleen)  has provided us with the framework with a new Meme.  Here are my responses to her questions.  

 Earlston in Lockdown, Wednmeday April 15th at 10.00am  with the lack of traffic on the usually busy High Street the most striking feature.

What are you most grateful for during this covid-19 crisis?
Lots of  things!  I realise I am very lucky -  my  husband’s companionship  and support; we live in a bungalow with a garden,  in a village in the rural Scottish Borders, which is the second lowest region in mainland Scotland for Covid-19 cases;  yes, we fall into the "vulnerable " category through our age, but have no relevant underlying health conditions, and our daughter & family live in the same village, and have been a wonderful help with supermarket shopping etc.  

In the Beginning  
I must admit I was a wee bit complacent at the start of the pandemic. I followed the news of of the virus spread in China, and chatted with a friend whose grandson was working in the British embassy in Beijing.   When it spread to Italy, I thought, we don't know anyone who has been in Italy this year.  Even when it reached the UK,  I thought we could be safe living where we do.  But then the cases escalated beyond anything I could have anticipated. 

What have you missed most during the full or partial lock-down?
They range from the serious to the trivial.  Contact with granddaughter;  not able to go to the funerals of two friends;   not visiting  neighbouring towns (we are dependent o local  bus services which have been severely  cut back)  and it is now 10 weeks since we have been out of the village; not visiting the library, not having our regular lunches out;  and not getting my hair cut!  Shaggy locks are growing!

Have you shopped more or less? Online or offline?
I must admit when the crisis first broke here, I did follow the herd and stocked up on basics  - not excessively I add  - but with toilet rolls, sanitizers, anti-bacterial products, and tinned goods. I have used a supermarket delivery  service for eight  years, but it has been a nightmare trying to get a  delivery slot - you are lucky to get one 3 weeks ahead and in April an order for £71 resulted in only £47 worth of goods being supplied. There has been talk of vulnerable customers getting priority, but there's  been no sign of that with the online service   - I doubt if they have even  my date of birth to identify me as such. 

The beneficiaries  - I have never spent as much in my local village at the  Co-op store, convenience store,   butcher and  greengrocer.   Queues have become the norm with only two customers allowed inside at any one time.  Online my main purchase has been books.

Masks have been very little in evidence in my village, apart from in the pharmacist.  The greengrocer  advised them, but I found mine steamed up my glasses, the staff weren't wearing them, and nobody else seemed to bother much.

Have your hobbies sustained you during this time?
Very much so  - I knew from the start, I would have no difficulty filling my time -  family history research and writing;  my local heritage group activities, where I manage the  archive collection   and write the blog;  knitting & crochet squares for an African charity to be made up into blankets; plus reading, listening to Classic FM radio,  gardening and photography. 

I have never succumb to daytime TV (apart from Wimbledom tennis fortnight, and state occasions) - so no change there. 


What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?
Being  more or less house & garden bound;  learning to accept better my own company and not going out as much.  Taking pleasure even more so  in little things - such as beauty in flowers, in seeing our friendly blackbird and sparrows  taking a bath in our water feature in the garden. 


Have you been exercising more or less?
Mm - the intention is there but not always the practice!  I found 50's music on You Tube on my IPad - great for doing my "Move it or Lose It" class exercises;  and Classic FM on the radio provides me with more music that gets me moving.

I miss my weekly Walk it Group, but began with regular  walks near my home (as per guidelines), and watched the trees change from bare branches in March to full verdant green in late April.  But however pleasant,  that route began to pall and one  day I was so desperate to walk  by water, so I went further than usual for a riverside  walk and some different photographic views.  

Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?
Not  the fridge - that is stocked mainly with healthy salads, yoghurts, cheeses &  stewed fruit, but the store cupboard and biscuit tin are definitely my foes and I am a chocoholic!  I do tend to comfort eat and we like our mid morning and mid afternoon breaks.    On the other hand I am not indulging in scones which are a staple "goodie"  here when going anywhere for coffee etc .  So yes, the pounds are slowly creeping on.

Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?
I am not good with modern technology, and rely on the telephone for keeping  contact with family and friends - I certainly like to chat, but  am not bothered that we cannot see one another whilst on the phone.

I have progressed,  though,  as during Lockdown!  I have taken part in my weekly exercise class through Zoom; and taken part in a video committee meeting.  I am not over enthusiastic about it, but under the circumstances it is fulfilling a need. 

Have you taken up new hobbies during the lockdowns?
No  - but I have thought about it, especially as there was a spell when I was getting fed up doing the same thing, and  so many of my activities are computer based - I could do with finding some other hobby, as a change. 

Are you cooking or gardening more and doing more housework ?
Gardening  -  I would be doing anyway, and at the start  of the Lockdown, it was high on my priorities to tidy away the  winter debris, get the grass cut. tidy up the shed, paint a trellis   -  and I am pleased with the  results. We would be lost without the garden, and it must be dreadful for families confined to flats with active  toddlers, or stroppy teenagers. 

Cooking has never been a great interest of mine, though I have  tried a few new main meal recipes, with success.  Ditto baking - I did think I would feel I had the time to do baking, but if I did, I would want to eat it - so, I have not got out my rolling pin or cake tins.  

Housework wise,  I am making full use of the disinfectants and anti bacterial sprays to  keep infections at bay.  I have had a great decluttering session in the loft and the cupboards, with two bags ready for when the charity shops re-open.  But  I still need  to get round to cleaning my oven! 

Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?
Only  occasionally  (usually at night), thinking about the graphic TV hospital coverage of patients and health staff;  of  key worker daughter, and son-in-law on furlough.   I am very lucky that I have not known of anyone who has had the virus, so have not experienced the heartache and loss that so many people  have faced.   I am concerned about the political and economic situation which I foresee being dire. For myself the worry has been minor in comparison  - what  if I break my glasses?  What if I  get toohache?  

There have been mornings when I have woken up and had to think hard what day it was - they all run together the same, and what is there to look forward to for that day?  I suddenly realised that the organiser calendar had not been turned in over 4 weeks, simply because there has been  nothing to write down in the way of activities and appointments. 
But the lovely warm, sunny  weather has been a great boost in lifting  spirits,  sitting outside, and gaining a tan - who would not like having more time to do that? 

A Wonderful  Heart-Warming  Gesture  - daughter came round on Easter Sunday  to leave  a picnic bag and when we opened it there were fresh sandwiches (butcher’s ham & egg & tomato), homemade sausage rolls, fruit scones with homemade jam, choc. chip cookies, chocolate nests (made by granddaughter)  & chocolate tiffin -  plus  a bottle of red grape juice which we like.    It was such a delightful, thoughtful, original Easter  gift & I was very touched, - but how I missed giving her a  hug! 

How have the  closures affected your local community?
There is nowhere to go for a meal, or even have a congenial coffee out with friends; and the two hairdressers and the beauty salon are closed, along with the  few other non-food shops - there is an eerie  empty feel to the High Street.   But community spirit is alive in my village, so a Resilient  Group of volunteers  was set up  for people to get in touch and get help with shopping, collecting prescriptions or simply providing  a regular chat, etc. etc. 

Residents have been joining in the  national Clapping for Carers at 8pm on a Thursday evening;  children have been  painting rainbow pictures to put in the windows  - a symbol of hope;  and we are in the midst of a Scarecrow  Festival in support of key workers. 

Have you had to cancel travel plans for pleasure and family?
Yes, two short breaks in the  UK  (one with family) - I doubt  if we will be going away at all this year. 

Humour in All Things
Such as the  comments from my husband on my attempts to do something with my hair - a scarf tied round my head and I was "like a pirate" , and a bandeau was like an "elderly John McEnroe" - I abandoned both!  And no,  I have no selfies of the looks!  

Ducks demonstrating social distancing. 


The Harsh Reality of the Statistics - as of June 3rd 2020.
  • Globally, there have been almost 6.4m confirmed cases and 379,000 deaths
  • In the  UK 280,000 cases and 38, 738 deaths - the worst scenario in Europe.
  • In Scotland  13, 930 cases and  3911 deaths
  • In the Scottish Borders 375 cases and 38  deaths. 
  • USA, China, Brazil and Russia  have the highest number of cases in the  world - with the UK 5th. 
  • The highest number of casualties are among the over 80's, male and people of an ethnic background. 


  1. Great post. Some of your answers were similar to mine. Nature is what has helped me cope. Luckily, we too were going from winter to spring to summer.

  2. So good to read your post and compare your experiences with ours. There are so many similarities.

  3. Thanks for joining in Susan. It's been interesting to compare life in lockdown in rural Scotland with ours here in Queensland. I was surprised how long your online deliveries were taking compared with those we ordered. I'm not sure whether having the family close by mightn't be more difficult - you most likely want to give them a hug yet can't. I know I'm missing my grandchildren even though I often don't see them for months because of distance -it's knowing you can't that does it. Your walking areas are just delightful - so much more pleasant than walking suburban footpaths. I had to smile at your chocoholic comment - me too :)

  4. The Covid-19 experiences in Scotland are very similar to those in the United States. Here's praying that it is over soon and that we all get through it safely.

  5. Glad all is well for you, ScotSue. I wrote for this meme too. I had forgotten I cleaned out my worst kitchen cupboards (very awkwardly placed & chock full) but, like you, I never got to cleaning the oven. Now I am cooking more, I'd just as soon wait!

  6. Thank you, all, for sharing your memories Despite living on different continents, ir is striking how similar our experiences were. Keep safe.

  7. Sue, your statistics prompted me to look at today’s data...something that was one of my near-daily activities for months. Globally the infections have reached 132.5m people with 2.87m deaths. It’s mind boggling isn’t it?


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