Pandemic diary 56: Walkspace and spaced walking

Things I'll miss about lockdown: walking in the middle of the road.

The first bit of planning for the future took place last night. This felt kind of weirdly positive because lockdown has been all about putting things on hold, closing things down and just trying to survive.

Looking ahead and picking up some threads of action felt good. Basically we had an online meeting to restart Walkspace – the walking collective that Andy, Pete and I started back in January. We've now officially added the mysterious Robson as a full member. We each bring our own particular bents to walking and his seems to be the poetry of solo walking. I'm sure it's not often you get a football supporter who loves poetry but that's Robson – he's been writing some lovely posts on the Walkspace blog, about trees, birds and walking alone and with others if you fancy checking them out. Here's a sample:

If you look a a patch of woodland from a short distance you will run out of words to describe the different verdant greens of each species of tree. Adam Nicolson, in his brilliant book The Making of Poetry, describes spring as having 'rhapsodic freshness in every molecule'. Some leaves are not even green, there are bright yellows and deep reds as well. Visit a local tree once a week from the start of April to the end of May, throughout the year in fact, and you will see it transform. The effort the tree exerts in spring is worth pondering. A mature oak is thought have around a quarter of a million leaves, all of which it replaces every year!

Robson on…Arboreal Beauty
Leaf rainbow – name that tree? Photo: Robson

Yesterday I also did three walks: two hours around Highbury Park, one hour along the Rea and a 30-minute walk carrying crop frames to the allotment. Probably no wonder I conked out after lunch today and had a nap. (And thanks to Sheena for stepping in with a guest post from her London lockdown.)

Speaking of tired, Pete – who I think I mentioned has gone nocturnal and not sleeping that well in the day – is coming out of his furloughed funk. He's blogged about this last night. It's another good read. In it, he talks about how an incredibly, ridiculously tough art-cat-bedspread jigsaw saved his life:

[The jigsaw] arrived a week later. In my nocturnal state I cleared the dining table and spent the night doing the edges, as task that took longer than usual because all the pieces in this jigsaw are basically the same.

I started off listening to podcasts. Then music. And then I found myself working in the 4am silence, acutely aware of the humming of the lightbulb. One night I’d set the dishwasher going and totally tuned in to its cycle, the way it clunks and whirs over 110 minutes. All the while I’m picking up a piece, trying to find it on the cover and, if I do, placing it on the board.

While this was happening I found myself losing interest in the things that had been distracting me. I no longer binged on movies and box sets. I stopped doomscrolling the news sites. I barely opened my laptop. All that mattered was the jigsaw, one piece at a time.

Last week a jigsaw saved my life – Pete Ashton
A snippet of the 1000-piece Cat Fancy jigsaw puzzle that drove Pete sane.

This evening I did another walk after work – I was still feeling very spacey but in a quite pleasant way, like the world was slightly shifted to the right and a bit like my out-of-body experience a couple of weeks ago.


Today I am thankful for the ability to nap after lunch. Personally I think all offices and workplaces should have a nap room as a perk. In fact, my hair-brained money-making scheme (if I had the cash) used to be to hire a building in central London and rent out nap pods to tired workers who needed a kip on their lunch hour. Anyone want to sponsor me as a sleep entrepreneur?

Early night ahead.

PS. You may have spotted I've started numbering these diaries. Can't quite believe there has been a blog post a day for this long. Old-school!

PPS. You'll also have noticed that I add the 'commission me' call to action because this is what I do: blog or write articles for clients. This pandemic diary is a total busman's holiday. If I were to get some work out of it one day, that would be simply divoon.

PPS. This video of a guy recreating the final dance scene from Dirty Dancing in his living room made me laugh today – watch it. As did this Normal People re-enactment of their lusty chemistry while performing scenes from other TV shows – watch it.

Commission/hire me: fiona [at]