Pandemic diary 51: Stirchley's Von Trapps* in lockdown (guest post)

Every Wednesday a fresh load of songs arrive. How do you write a positive song anyway? Or any song?

Another guest post has come in – hurrah! This is especially welcome as I have spent eight hours editing financial B2B copy and have nothing left to give. This insight on lockdown life is from a highly talented musical, digital and culinary friend – Lobelia – who I've had the pleasure of knowing for nine years this year. She lives in Stirchley with her pro musician husband, Steve, and their super smart young son (who used to interrupt his coding to give me a hug back in the good old hugging days). Please say hello to Lo!


I have avoided writing much about my time so far in lockdown due to Covid-19. I think that’s largely because I’m trying to avoid the realities in a sort of ‘fake it till you make it’ kind of scenario. It’s not that I’m not acutely aware of what’s going on, but rather that I’m employing a technique of not allowing myself to dwell on it. At least as much as possible.

I felt a bit guilty at first being comfortable in the environment of staying home. I have a husband and a 10-year-old son, and I feel quite content being close to them. My husband and I work from home mostly, and our son is quite self-contained, so we are great at being together in a small space. I only struggle with people eating cereal near me (that’s a whole other story) or my son wearing headphones and bellowing talking at full volume on his Zoom calls. 

As a techy musician (I’m a techy geek by day working in sustainable transport/wellness) and a musician otherwise running gigs, writing songs and working as a studio singer on various projects, I feel like my training in both were tailor-made for this kind of scenario.

I was furloughed quite early on from my day job, at 100% salary for the first month, which has since decreased to 80% and soon to fall to 60% if the Tories have their way about it.

My brain isn’t great at being idle, so I immediately fell into devising and working on a project with a friend called The Positive Songs Project, which encourages members to write and record one positive song a week in times of despair and uncertainty. I don’t think I’d ever intentionally written a positive song in my 25+ year career as a songwriter so I’m amazed to find that, five weeks in, I’ve got part of a Bandcamp album of positive music under my belt.

Working on this project has definitely kept me focused and feeling mostly OK, although I do have days where I can’t function. It’s always the tipping point of an article in the news I shouldn’t have read, or someone I know that is affected. 

All and all, I feel very lucky. I can still perform from home with high-quality streaming gigs (thanks to fast wi-fi), release music (thanks to Bandcamp) and I live in a gorgeous area in a lovely little house with very connected and community-focused neighbours.

There are parks and green spaces all around me. My expenses are low with no car and very reasonable rent and I can spend time on the things that are important to me.

The feeling of community that has built up around this crisis is wonderful on my street, we even have Zoom calls with drinks to connect and bond.

I still despair about the state of the world and those who are not as lucky as me and I have no idea what’s going to happen in future – but I’m just going to focus on doing my best for my family and helping others as much as possible and take it one day at a time

Fiona back again – I highly recommend tuning into the Positive Songs Project. You don't have to write a song for it (maybe one day) but there are some lovely recordings on there. My favourite so far is Granfalloon's The Pigeon. It's quite hypnotic and all about birds, my new lockdown interest.

* PS. Sorry for calling you the Von Trapps but you are the most positive musical family I know. Stirchley's rubble hills are alive with the sound of positive songs. Plus, you guys are a few of My favourite things!


I saw a friend posting photos from a local park I'd never heard of. I looked it up and it is only 10 minutes away in the car. How have I never known about it? It's hidden right there behind the trees lining the Bristol Road on the way to Northfield.

So this evening we went for a walk around Manor Farm Park, which is part lake (currently drained so extra interesting), part park, part meadow, part woodland, part manor (it was once the grounds of Northfield Manor House). It's massive and quite fairytale-esque in many places with little waterfalls and glades. If you ever read 'The Magic Faraway Tree' as a child, then I'm pretty sure you'll relate to this park.

So yeah thanks P-Bantz for the recommendation. B31 2AB is the postcode for your satnavs. Here are some photos to prove how lovely it is.

Oak trees, brooks, waterfalls and Pete.
Wetland in south Birmingham.
Secret riverside walks through the glade.
A deep silt plain, formerly the lake but perhaps the work is on hold due to lockdown.

Commission/hire me: fiona [at]

3 thoughts on “Pandemic diary 51: Stirchley's Von Trapps* in lockdown (guest post)”

  1. Oh I remember that park from my student days (I lived in Griffin Close, not the posh flats that are there now, but their predecessors) and had friends at Manor House and we used to walk up to Northfield and down to Selly Oak a lot, trying to avoid the Bristol Road.

  2. I discovered Manor Farm Park on my birthday earlier in the year when I decided to walk to Halesowen. If you carry on following the Merritt's Brook route to Ley Hill Park there are some enormous redwoods. Robson showed me them a couple of days before lockdown.

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