Pandemic diary 27: Travels in my garden

Me and Clem.

The psychology of telling myself I'm in Wales is working. (Why?) I feel myself winding down the more I pretend and joke about it. So.

This morning I went for an hour's wander along the Vale of Stirchley high Street, which was peaceful as all but three shops were closed. The A-road was quiet but for cyclists and joggers and the occasional F1 wannabe who saw the empty horizon to Cotteridge and put their foot down. I took some photos on a theme of 'Nature Vs Lockdown' for my 'Perambulate With Me' walking/documentation project, which I think I will now have to rename 'Don't Perambulate With Me'.

Nature returns to claim Stirchley High St.

We set up in the garden – the 'beach' – in the afternoon, under a parasol; me, Pete and the (single) bun stretched out on the lawn together like some postcard by Martin Parr. The sound of a dog barking, blue tits singing and kids playing in the distance reached us on the breeze. A few gardens over, I imagined that the surf was up with an off-shore wind and cold paddling on the shore.

The clouds disappeared to leave a vast pale blue late afternoon sky, punctuated by the white flashing sun.


It felt warm and peaceful and I tried to push anxious thoughts away, mostly about what job I might have to retrain for as a freelancer after all this is over and the new great depression begins. Perhaps something in food production.

I'll think about that another day. For now, the sun is shining, the tea is on tap, the sunset is coming and the evening will bring a holiday jigsaw and maybe a wine.

At 5pm, tortilla chips arrive in a bowl as I lie staring at the sky (and the fly).

I listen to (friend and artist) Susan Kruse's long bookmarked Wayfaring podcast – an episode called 'On commitment' – about all the things that kick in to help when you make a commitment to something. It's why I started walking more publicly and helped start Walkspace earlier this year, before all commitments got side-swiped by Covid-19's demanding of all the attention.

At 6.30pm I finally get around to Rebecca Solnit's long read on what coronavirus can teach us about hope, referring to several of the topics in my own diary about 'what happens after', what change might come, and the exhaustion as our bodies do important but invisible psychological work in:

"…adjusting to the profound social and economic changes, studying the lessons disasters teach, equipping ourselves for an unanticipated world."

Our neighbour comes out to hang out some washing. We tell him we're in Wales and it's nice to bump into him again. (Last year at Easter, on the last day of our week in Barmouth, we spotted our next door neighbour on a day trip with his family. Just a little bit of history repeating, as the song goes.)

Today I am thankful for blue skies and spring sunshine. The jigsaw progresses.

Everything is going to be alright.

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