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As we here in England look forward to emerging from this second period of lockdown next week, albeit into only slightly less strict tiers, it occurred to me that lockdown has had its good points. Obviously, we’d rather not have had to undergo it at all, and certainly not twice, but it has made us grateful for small mercies – and perhaps also helped us realise what’s really important and what we shouldn’t take for granted in the future.

Everyone is bound to have their own favourite things, of course, but these are mine – feel free to add your own!

  1. Friends and family

We may not have been able to see much of friends or family this year, although I was lucky enough to have my elder son and his family staying during the first lockdown when they were between houses. They’re now safely ensconced in their new house, ten minutes down the road, but grandmotherly caring responsibilies mean I’m still able to see them, thank goodness. But thanks to modern technology we have at least been able to keep in touch with friends and family we can’t see face-to face and keep each other sane. I’m sure the number of What’s App group chats must have doubled or trebled over the last few months as people connect in a diverse range of social configurations. Even my parents, in their late eighties, got to grips with What’s App – including emojis! – and FaceTime – some of the time anyway. On other occasions we may have had calls with only the top of their heads showing… Heaven knows what they could see!

Phone calls to friends you haven’t seen in ages but suddenly felt the need to get in touch with, Skype calls across the miles and even heart-warming discussions on Facebook groups – they’ve all helped us socialise virtually, even if it’s definitely not as good as the real thing! The Foodie Translators group on Facebook, in particular, has been a great source of comfort. Members rallied round to support others who were ill, locked down and stressed under extremely restrictive conditions, especially in Italy or Spain, at the height of the first wave. Then there were those who were just in need of inspiration for what to make out of store cupboard ingredients, or how to deal with shortages of yeast or flour. Even toilet roll got a mention once or twice…

  1. ITI Virtual Coffee Mornings

Along the same lines, Ann Brooks from the ITI Office has done a fantastic job bringing ITI members together this year. Starting in the first lockdown, these weekly virtual get-togethers have been a great way of getting to e-meet members from across the country, firstly from the regional groups and then the various networks. Often, you might have seen someone’s name, but never seen them in person, let alone find out what made them tick. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has made mental notes of people to contact in the future or enjoyed finding more about colleagues we already knew. The weekly round-ups of what’s new in the profession, CPD recommendations and the Bulletin quiz or reviews have all been excellent features too. After the summer holidays, these switched to monthly sessions, but no less valuable for all that – bravo to Ann and to her long-suffering side-kick Catherine Park too. It has brought an extra human touch to the ITI and one that’s been very much appreciated in the dark days of working in even more isolation than usual.

  1. Collaboration with colleagues

Talking of colleagues, I’d also like to flag up the opportunity to connect with like-minded colleagues via the ITI networks. I’ve been lucky enough to have had plenty of work throughout the year, including a number of large projects. I was able to refer some clients to trusted colleagues, but there were others I needed to outsource, either due to contractual requirements or so I could ensure consistency of the overall submissions. I ended up getting in touch with at least two colleagues I hadn’t worked with before and am very grateful for their sterling efforts and readiness to jump through the necessary hoops in what was, in one case at least, a very difficult and fiddly project. They know who they are, and I really appreciate their help. It’s good to be able to rely on others, especially at times like these. Not necessarily an exclusive lockdown bonus, but so good to know you’re not alone and that there are people you can reach out to.

  1. Community spirit

Bewl walk

The community spirit didn’t just extend to work matters, but local communities too. I have lovely neighbours anyway, but people seemed to go out of their way to call and offer to get shopping for others, or bring round delicious homemade treats. My village was full of offers to help the vulnerable or lonely and the time-consuming shopping forays in the early days were made all the more bearable by the general spirit of goodwill and willingness to help others. It’s probably too much to hope this will continue when things finally get back to normal, but fingers crossed.

  1. Growing your own
    Red cabbage and turnips

Another unexpected turn-up for the books this strangest of years was that it became cool to garden! I’ve been gardening for nearly 40 years (gulp), so it really wasn’t any different this year for me, but it’s been lovely seeing more and more people turning to their gardens as vital escape hatches when there was nowhere else to go and not much else to do. I really feel for people stuck in cities with no access to outside space. It has been an absolute joy having a garden and an allotment to retreat to and commune with the earth when things got particularly bad. All that wonderful produce and armfuls of flowers are the icing on the cake, of course.

  1. Sourdough


I also doubt that I’d have experimented with sourdough had it not been for the yeast shortages in the earlier part of this year. With fast-depleting stocks of yeast, it was a case of needs must, and actually quite a revelation. I’ve still got my pot of starter in the fridge, along with a healthy pot of “discard” and I’ve loved experimenting with hot cross buns, cinnamon rolls, sourdough pizza and pancakes. Who knew?!

Cinnamon buns

  1. Daily yoga

Another habit that lockdown has reinforced has been my daily yoga routine. While I’ve been doing yoga for years, ever since I got divorced and needed something to stop my mind going round and round in ever-decreasing circles, I’ve always struggled to do any regular practice at home. There always seemed to be something else more pressing to do. I’ve already mentioned the 30-day yoga challenge I started doing back in the spring at a colleague’s suggestion (those wonderful colleagues again!) in a previous post. Well, 30 days segued into another session, and another, and now it’s become a habit. I’ve found it useful to create a yoga tab on my browser and save links I particularly enjoy for ease of reference. Apart from the knee strengthening sessions I’ve mentioned before, there are dedicated sessions for hands and wrists – perfect for translators and other keyboard warriors – and even classes geared to helping with PMT, cramps and bloating. One thing’s for sure: even though my in-person yoga classes started again at the end of the summer, before we went back into lockdown, it felt wrong not to have my daily morning yoga fix even on days when I knew I’d be going to a yoga class in the evening. They say it takes three weeks to form a habit; well, it has certainly worked in my case.


  1. More time to knit

Another hobby I’ve been able to polish during the long lockdown evenings (and work or no work, I still try not to work at weekends or in the evenings) is knitting. I got back into knitting with a vengeance when my granddaughter was born in April last year, but the cancellation of all my usual evening activities like yoga, dance and badminton meant I had more time to do other things – and knitting is one of those pastimes you can do while watching television, so win-win! More time to knit has led me to be more adventurous with my pattern choices, knitting more complicated patterns than I perhaps would have done before. The online crafts offerings from companies like Love Crafts have been superb throughout. Supplies arrive more or less by return, and once I discovered that eBay is a fantastic source of buttons, there was no stopping me. I’ve loved relearning how to knit with different colours, on circular needles, and even, on a recent pixie hat project for my granddaughter, on double-pointed needles, which I haven’t used since my own boys were tiny.

Hedgehog jumper

  1. Shopping

I have to confess that another lockdown realisation for me is that I don’t miss shopping. I’m very happy to order my groceries online (although I still use the local shops in the village for fresh produce) and appreciate the time savings, to say nothing of the reduced exposure to potential virus infections… I haven’t even missed going shopping for clothes. When I did go back to the shops in my local town again in the summer, I found they often didn’t have what I was looking for, so ended up empty-handed and ordering online anyway. I feel sorry for independent retailers, but suspect that many people will have found the same and we’ll come out of this a very changed nation, with many shops and businesses not surviving….

  1. Travel – not taking it for granted

A & L Woodstock

The last of my “good things” is the realisation that I will never, ever take the ability to travel for granted again. Chatting to an American colleague a few weeks ago about the events we’ve missed this year, he commented that I could get on a ‘plane any time and fly the couple of hours to San Sebastian or Barcelona – and he struck a chord. I could. Yet it’s only when you suddenly can’t do these things that you realise how much you take them for granted. My younger son moved to Boston last year and we all blithely assumed we’d be able to hop over when the mood took us. Not so this year, and how I’ve missed them. I even considered flying, mask and all, foggy glasses notwithstanding, quarantining with them for 2 weeks, then was brought abruptly to earth by the realisation that the US had closed its borders to all but US citizens and green card holders until the end of the year. Now that the vaccine seems to be on the horizon, I’m very much looking forward to going to visit my son and his wife again – and I promise I won’t ever take my good fortune for granted ever again….

Quite a list, but I’m sure others will have different revelations to be grateful for in this dreadful year – do share!