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The Lockdown Diary – Fear of Going Out

Words by @chameleoninhighheels

In one of my blog posts I talked about life after lockdown and how I am enjoying the absence of FOMO (fear of missing out).

Feedback from readers was confirming that I was not the only one feeling relief that I did not have to keep up with the Jones’s anymore or feel bouts of inadequacy because my social life sucks and I can’t be bothered to hit the nightlife because a) I am so tired ALL THE TIME and want to be in bed well before midnight; b) I can’t drink anymore since having kids, and a sniff of half a glass of wine sends me to sleep (cheap date) and c) I feel highly anxious and apprehensive in large crowds and gatherings, which is not a reason to be explored in today’s post, but nevertheless a valid reason.

I am OK with being at home, obeying the rules and working hard to make the best out of this abysmal situation, some days better than others. I exercise daily, I make sure we live in the garden if it’s nice and I put so much veg in our dinners that I am sure we may be sprouting some bell peppers and broccoli out of our ears any time soon.

Leaving the house may no longer be a spontaneous event, but it is a right I have not passed on once since lockdown started. I do raise an eyebrow when I see people making up their own rules as they go along, loosely interpreting social distancing with “it’s in the open air, it won’t hurt” whilst standing far too close. But I am not terrified, I am not scared, I don’t feel anxious about leaving the house. 

I am a teacher and before lockdown I was surrounded by hundreds of students every day – in minuscule classrooms, where even the students at one stage pointed out that the 2-metre rule was a joke when they sat no further than 15cm apart from one another (no kidding). I saw a minimum of a third of students in all my classes go off sick or self-isolate and I watched one of my colleagues frantically disinfecting our staff room after another colleague coughed when making her coffee (said colleague was ill the next day).

Despite this, I came out seemingly unscathed. No symptoms, although I am fully aware that I could have been a carrier. But – the Corona Virus didn’t make me ill whilst working in a relatively risky environment although I feel a lot calmer since the school shut down. Don’t misquote or misunderstand me please: I don’t feel invincible or superhuman. I know the dangers and have made sure I did not go anywhere apart from a walk or run for the first two weeks in lockdown, making sure I wouldn’t pass on anything I had picked up at school. What I am saying is that I am not scared to leave the house. I am fine with it. And, until I spoke to two of my peers, I thought most people would be “just fine” with leaving the house, too.

 

As it turns out, not everyone is. FOGO, or fear of going out is real and it is all-encompassing and exhausting.

One of my readers opened my eyes to something I had not experienced. She revealed that going out made her fear awkward social situations when the path wasn’t wide enough to stay the prescribed 2 metres apart or feeling that she was in someone’s way. She also noticed that, although lots of people are being friendly and greeting each other, there is a more serious side to interacting with strangers – a stare rather than a smile or a stern look whilst passing. “I guess it’s people’s fear coming out.”, she opines. I recall my own experience from a few days ago when I went shopping and some customers walked past me no further than 50cm away because they couldn’t wait a few seconds behind me. I remember briefly feeling panicked because I thought: ‘That’s breaking the rules!’ (I am German. I love rules).  Then, slightly bemused yet also slightly bewildered I muttered under my breath how great it was that Covid-19 only attacks from front and back – don’t worry about breathing on me from the left or right, its inbuild virus navigation system won’t know how to attack me from the side – I considered briefly to start wearing a scarf round my face, to protect myself from such idiocy (if anything, I don’t have to witness it…).

My friend, however, can’t find any bemusement in such careless behaviour.  Trips to the supermarket these days are a systematic cleaning operation thereafter, with everything, from shopping bags being disinfected, to clothes washed, to her partner being ordered to shower, to any possible surface being scrubbed within an inch of its life. To many of us the virus is invisible and therefore we may even forget about it.  To my friend, it is everywhere, lingering in the air she breathes, in the should-be-safe-comfort of her home, on her food, the floor in her home, on herself. 

 

For another reader FOGO takes on a different perspective, that of coping with past traumas of infections during pregnancy and having to go through the hell of watching her newborn getting infected. I get choked up when she tells me her story and gives me an insight into what life with an all-surrounding fear of infection feels like during Covid-19. 

Whilst she is not always terrified of going out and sometimes wants nothing more than to leave the house, her fears are more complex than that: “The silly part is that if you ask me whether or not I’m worried that the girls will catch Corona Virus or if it’ll make them really poorly then I’d say I’m not worried really, because it isn’t tending to harm children, but it’s having the idea rammed down our throat that we constantly need to clean everything. I know that’s perfectly reasonable and for a good reason at the minute, but it’s terrifying when your mind already works that way.

Plus there’s all this talk of statistics and which surfaces germs can live on and how long for etc., etc., which plays right into my anxieties.” To cope with this, my reader relies on keeping herself busy, and, BC (before Covid), was glad to go out as much as possible.  Now she can’t. “In short”, she tells me, “the Corona Virus has done two things: Validated my crippling fear of germs, contamination and the need to clean everything and it also made me feel that I am very much trapped inside four walls with my own horrific thoughts. So there is [the fear of not having] the option [to go] out for any length of time to distract myself and [also] FOGO because of all the ‘what ifs’”. 

Opening conversations with two fellow women has underlined what I already anticipated: Life in lockdown may, on the surface, be the same for us all.  The same rules apply to all of us and none of us will be going anywhere anytime soon.  However, this exceptional new way of life is also highlighting that we are all so different.  This experience forms and shapes all of us individually – none of us can have the same experience.  Our past is unique, our fears, or mental health all vary and so what feels good for one is the worst possibility for another. 

Therefore, so I believe, the most important lesson we can learn from this is to be kind to ourselves.  Whichever way we get through this day by day is up to you, not prescribed by your mate who posts 500 activities on social media (that is no criticism, but comparison is also highly dangerous at this stage).  Kindness and understanding of others’ fears and ways to cope is also a must. Don’t try and fix.  Just listen and accept.  No one is crazy.  We are different. All our feelings matter.  The aim is to get through this in one piece.  Mentally, physically and spiritually.  Whatever gets you through, whatever you have to do: Do it. And don’t forget to breathe.

@chameleoninhighheels Insta

Hand me the Gin

Farm Grown Gin

We were kindly invited by Warner’s Gin to spend the day on their farm celebrating inspirational women. Warner’s is based in Harrington in Northants; so a quick county hop for me and my wonderful plus one Raj. AD/gifted experience day from Warner’s Distillery

The day started sedately with a drive through the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire countryside and we were welcomed to the farm with coffee and breakfast pastries. We joined a wonderful bunch of inspirational ladies (it was blogger galore) and the wonderful Warner’s team.

We had a lush box of goodies; including joules scarves and hats and funky rainbow wellies from ever creatures. So we all donned our new gifts and we’re ready for the farm….

The Warner’s team are AMAZING; so knowledgable and full of passion for producing an epic product in epic surrounding. I love the fact that Tom says ‘fuck’ a lot, and this only strengthened his passion when talking about producing an epic gin- with no unnecessary (and nasty) colourings or flavourings. Warner’s were the first to create a rhubarb gin, and its colour and flavour come from beautiful, natural, British grown royal rhubarb!

Warner’s are truly on an Eco journey of trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Growing as much of their needed botanicals on the farm as they can, and importing as little as possible. They showed us their three stunning botanical gardens (they took part in Chelsea flower show) one down the Harrington valley giving us a chance for a brisk blowy walk!

We saw Angelica, juniper, lemon thyme, heathers, lavender, elderflower and more. A queen bee even landed for a surprise feature in our day; and Johnny (Warner’s botanical and bee keeper smarty pants) told us all about the importance of these creatures; and their shocking facts about bee copulation!!!

After that bracing walk we needed Gin- hoorah; so tasted some lemon balm gin in the glorious March sunshine. We then headed off to get our green fingered nails grubby; by ‘pricking out’ some Angelica seedlings, and potting some borage seeds to take home to grow. And then it was time for lunch!

And what a lunch it was; three courses of ‘Warner’s gin themed’ awesomeness in the epic local Gastronpub the Tollemarche arms. Tollemache Arms

Lemon balm infused salmon, a potato, Brie and mushroom Pithivier and yummy slow gin gravy; and the most awesome thing ever; rhubarb gin and Harrington honey trifle. I never knew a trifle could be so epic; and although we all had filling tummies we seemed to polish it off.

Obviously this was accompanied by some of Warner’s tasty gins; for me a rhubarb fizz to start and then a raspberry and soda. During the lengthy delicious lunch we were lead by the lovely Tina; to discuss our inspirational women.

The afternoon the full array of Warner’s gins; from the classic ‘Harrington dry Gin’ (yup sod off London, Harrington does it better), to the Joules collab Apple and Pear and the strawberry and rose (which I’d never heard of).

We then wax dipped and labelled our very own bottle; this day was truly epic, with so much attention to detail- making it such a special day for a wonderful group of ladies.

The day ended with imaginative Warner’s gin cocktails at their bar; my idea of heaven, and an epically stocked fridge. And then off we went into the Northamptonshire sunset.

I thought I’d finish with a few of my favourite Warner’s facts

  • There are 300 elderflower in each bottle of elderflower Gin
  • The distillers name is on each bottle
  • Toms mum Adele creates the idea of their Elderflower gin after picking some on the garden and adding to Gordon’s!
  • Warner’s does 350 distillations a year
  • 91% gin can actually taste amazing
  • Warner’s will be bringing out a spiced rum- using British grown botanicals!
  • Warner’s ask locals to pick Sloes to make their gin, and return the favour by giving gin.
  • Tom says ‘fuck’ A Lot

Obviously the idea of this day was to celebrate inspirational women; and March holds both inspirational women’s day and Mother’s Day- so this month I’m going to be posting about inspirational ladies, and hosting guest blogs from some wonderful ladies too.

Share your stories of the #inspowomen in your life on insta using this tag and @warnersgin too