Pandemic diary 99: Collaging lockdown, dreaming of future escapes and the holiday issue

A friend commented on one of my earlier posts that I was "really LIVING each day". Which did make me smile since I have found lockdown life pretty limiting. I'm not sure if she was referring to the daily writing here or the sudden interest in my allotment or my rich inner life where I imagine going surfing, for example. But 'really living' for me usually involves going somewhere with sea and mountains. Preferably a warm country far away but, more often now, Wales and Cornwall.

Since the recent announcements around lifting travel and holiday restrictions, my dreaming of holidays has escalated. Yesterday, I ended up having a collage session in which three 'map women' emerged from my subconscious.

Map women – slowly becoming a collage series.

Prior to that it was walking and surfing that came out of my collage sessions.

The walkers were all alone and distanced. Often they had their hands raised in triumph and joy. They were also torn, which gave them an extra divided, emotional feel. All the cuts and tears were of open countryside because walking mags don't really show urban walking. (Maybe they should since so many of us have rediscovered our local zones and the area within a mile of so of our homes.)

'Left, right, left, right, left, right.'

In our case, we also discovered 'extreme noticing' by walking the same streets over and over during lockdown, and this led to creating a local map of our findings, which has opened up new ways of thinking about and walking our local area.

The surfing was just expressing a desire to see the sea (or dive into the sky, which some of the waves were made from). Brummies have a thing about the 'seaside' – we need to see the sea once a year in order to live in a landlocked city the rest of the time.

‘You should have been here yesterday.’ I read a 500-page surf biography Barbarian Days during lockdown and stormy big waves were on my mind for about three weeks.

Before the holiday dreaming started, my collages were a bit darker. I wanted to log them here as responses to lockdown life. Every two weeks members of Birmingham Collage Collective were invited to submit a Birmingham-themed collage responding to the lockdown.

My collages were not the best I've done as I felt quite blocked and frustrated at the time, but they did reflect the isolation and social distancing, the work furloughs and the growing death toll.

I did four over the project and I'll post them here for the record.

April 22: 'Distancing'
May 6: 'Furloughed from the Wesleyan, Birmingham'.
May 6: There is a six-week backlog of burials in Birmingham, said my neighbour.
May 22: 'Toxic hands'

After writing about Commitment issues a couple of days ago, I think I will commit to doing a bit more collage practice. And maybe combine it with walking.

Update: these and other Birmingham Collage Collective lockdown collages are now being added to a Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery archive around Birmingham life in lockdown (see Flickr site and project info).

Holiday – yes or no?

I won't be going on holiday for some time yet. At least, not internationally. I'm not ready to get on a plane but, much more than that, I'm not willing to risk getting ill with Covid-19 overseas. Not just for healthcare reasons but because of the potential financial impact.

My friend Jill, who is a travel journalist, said that almost no insurers will cover the cost of Covid-19 now – or if borders closed again, or quarantine was required. And thanks to Brexit, Brits will only have EHIC coverage until the end of this year. So her best advice is stick to the EU in 2020.

As for next year or going long-haul, who can afford a potential hospital stay, possibly in intensive care? Surely this could bankrupt people!? Not worth the risk for a week or two away.

Jill started a discussion on LinkedIn about holidays and airbridges. She said that she would be booking to get away as soon as she possibly could (although not flying… yet).

Others responded to say that potential contagion meant they had "lost their enthusiasm for travel" or that being freelance "I don't want to blow money on a holiday, if I could be out of work in a couple of months" or "I won't be doing any international travel until a vaccine is created for this virus". Basically health, finances and anxieties meant foreign travel is a no-no for many people. My favourite response was from a cyclist: "I have been delightfully surprised at just how much a sense of travel I can experience within a 12 mile radius of home." Preach!

The balancing responses were: "A totally 'risk-free' life frankly isn't much of a life" and "already booked a flight to Italy" and city dwellers may be desperate for "some fresh air and green space" by now. Meanwhile, an independent travel agent seemed relieved their industry was cranking to life: "I have been making sure I keep up to date with hotel, airline and airport regulations so I can advise my clients on how to travel safely."

We've all got different risk profiles. I'm looking at Wales or Devon by car – but as a freelancer I also need to be sure I've got the income first. Warm swimming pool seas may have to remain a dream until 2021 or even 2022.

Roll on the vaccine, so to speak.


Today I am thankful for my GP. I've delayed checking out some new moles – a non-essential thing (hopefully). With no face-to-face appointments I took photos, sent them in and booked in for a follow-up chat.

Turns out they are not even moles but th lesions of ageing and, man, they have some fancy names. One of the two suspect items is called a Campbell de Morgan. Also called cherry angioma (another top name). It's so posh, I might start introducing it to friends. Or perhaps name a bunny after it: Lady Bunnella Campbell de Morgan?

Commission/hire me: fiona [at]

5 thoughts on “Pandemic diary 99: Collaging lockdown, dreaming of future escapes and the holiday issue”

  1. So agree. Am yearning for foreign travel: Stratford, the Malverns, maybe even the South coast. But most of all I really need to see the sea.
    But then, I am a Brummie too!

  2. I'm missing the sea horribly and lambasting Past Me for never learning to drive. Husband is being encouraged by work to take some time off so I think we might need to get a skip for his clear-out and that will be our summer holiday (we usually go to the tip with one of a few friends, but the rules say one person per car still and I don't want to make a friend unload all our rubbish!).

  3. i don't know why it pinged my imagination, but your cycling buddy's 12-mile radius produces over 450 square miles to be explored……………

  4. …… also reminds me……… i live almost at the seaside. the sea is visible if i go down the estuary!! if i go to grain, i can see where the thames and the medway merge and empty in to the sea, and the display of modern windmills beyond.
    i must go down to the sea again,
    the wonderful sea and sky,
    i left my vest and socks down there,
    i wonder if they're dry.
    (spike milligan)

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