Lockdown week 5

Well, here we are at the start of a shiny new month, probably not as far along as we thought we would be when when we turned from March to April but it feels like progress nevertheless. May is my favourite month of the year and of course that could just be because it’s my birthday month and so it always feels as though it’s brimming with promise but even so, I still believe it’s the most beautiful month of the year in the UK. Each time it comes round I promise myself that I’ll savour every moment and then when I look up from my desk it’s over. That won’t happen this year and we have to count these small gifts as they come along.

I have to say that I feel as though I’m blogging without a map at the moment. I usually have everything planned out a season at a time because I naturally fall back into my old retail magazine calendar so I write by the rhythm that I’ve followed for so many years. Now however I’m going by instinct and so each post is a bit of a challenge but an adventure too. Not much has happened here this week so today I’m just going to continue my reflections of how it feels to be in coronavirus lockdown as time goes on.

So let’s begin by imagining that this post is being read by somebody who has happened upon it in 2120… as she waits for friends in a lively bar… sipping a cool glass of wine (ahh the thought of it). For her sake I’m going to start by recapping on where we are – approaching the end of lockdown week 5. I suspect that at the beginning we thought it would all be over by now and we’d be back to living our normal lives but alas, that doesn’t even seem to be in sight. Last night Boris Johnson returned to the nightly bulletin for the first time since his own coronavirus episode. His message was that although the reproduction rate of the virus now appears to have fallen below R1, we’re still vulnerable to a second wave as seems to be happening in Germany. However he left us with the promise of an outline plan for gradual lifting to be issued next week.

So how do things seem to be going at the moment? Well (and this is obviously just my view) we seem to be in a period of calm although I wonder if I should actually call it stagnation. I’ve noticed in conversations with my friends this week that most are feeling utterly fed up. One of them expressed it really well when she said “I feel guilty saying this but I miss the beginning when we were all busy panic buying and going on furlough. I felt really alive and I had purpose – a real mission to buy food that would keep my family going and in the meantime we just needed to wait it out with a load of board games and baking. Now the days are just like an endless roll of not knowing.” (And now you’re thinking what a nightmare it must be to have a friend like me who notes down what you say on the phone but it’s all helped with my research project this week you see!)

I think a lot of us do feel as though we’re in stasis. There is very little real news and so as a result the news sites are being filled with speculation to keep people reading. One of them yesterday had (one single) academic suggesting that everyone over 50 should be forced to stay in isolation for months to come which my family thought was hilarious. I saw this quickly flying around a WhatsApp group, really upsetting some people but we have to step back and apply logic to it. I suspect it’s extremely unlikely to happen, if only because a large number of people in the upper echelons of our society’s decision making structure are in the 50 -60 age group.

On a more practical level I’m pleased that most of the food shortages seem to have come to an end although flour is still difficult to buy. Apparently it’s because they’ve run out of domestic sized bags so the sudden uplift in home baking can’t be met. When I managed to buy some in our local supermarket last week it came in a completely plain unbranded bag so they’re obviously rushing them through. It’s now easy to get a next day supermarket delivery here and neighbourhood systems have been established in our village to support the shielded and they’re working well.

I’m typing with my office door closed but even so I can hear Mr MC’s Zoom meeting going on next door. It’s a big one with lots of different voices contributing – he has his President’s hat on because it’s a Chamber of Commerce think tank. I’m trying not to listen because they’re talking about the likely business fallout from all of this and it doesn’t sound good. They, like everyone else, are trying to build a picture of the future but I can hear them going round in circles. Even the owl in our garden is discombobulated today, hooting away in broad daylight.

And my world of retail of course is on fire as brands frantically try to anticipate the likely demand for Autumn clothes as they reach the deadline for placing final orders. They’re doing it knowing that they still have their summer stock to sell – and a lot of it is held up in ports all around the world.

So, having been through all of this I think it’s time for us to dig deep and find small things that we can look forward to. Let’s begin with the fact that it’s May and appreciate the new leaves on the trees, spring flowers and the dawn chorus. In a way there isn’t a better time of year that this could be happening, I think it would be far harder if it were winter and we were all facing months of dark days inside.

Next Friday is VE Day and without coronavirus we’d probably all just be looking forward to an unusual Bank Holiday Friday where we’d catch up with a few jobs before the weekend. Maybe though we should celebrate the anniversary of the ending of another terrible experience that so many people lived through and reflect on the ability that we have to survive these periods of unwanted disruption to our lives. I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet but the village is asking everyone to decorate their houses so the Union Jacks are on order and it sounds like a good excuse for lots of cake (again).

What else? It looks as though the sunshine is due to return next week so we’ll be back in our gardens… the stats do seem to be improving every day and next week we’ll have some kind of picture of how the next few months might look.

I think we’re all at a point where we’re adapting to this new way of living and people are continuing to pull together on the whole. There have been lots of stories of folk who are doing amazing things but everyone is battling valiantly in their own way which brings me on to a little surprise, an award that I’m running with my friend Claudia Bradby for an ordinary person who is quietly going above and beyond. Let me tell you about it.

A prize for kindness

You know about my friend Claudia because you see me wearing her jewellery in just about every photo I ever take – jewellery and lipsticks are the two areas of my life that I have perfectly capsuled, I wish I could say the same for the rest of it. Claudia’s business is tiny and very personal. Her jewellery is stocked in John Lewis & Partners but other than that you can only buy it from small jewellers or directly from her.

I speak from personal experience when I say that small businesses are being hit very hard by coronavirus so I’m really keen to support them when I can. I’ve been ringing round a few this week to see if there’s anything I can do for them and unfortunately quite a few are saying sadly that their doors are permanently closed.

Claudia’s jewellery doesn’t slavishly follow trends, it always has a story behind it and when I asked her to tell us a bit about her new collection which is called Dreamcatcher, this is what she said:

Turning 50 last year I paused to reflect on what my dreams are now. At heart family and friends… exploring the world… engaging and connecting with nature around me, with a touch of rewilding of myself via wild swimming. I set about designing a series of pieces which would connect us with what we dream of, and perhaps remind us not to lose sight of these precious thoughts.

She sent me a few pieces to show you which was great until I realised we were going to have to take a closer photo than usual which reveals my home haircut in all its glory – so just look at the pearls girls! Below I’m wearing the Circle of Life necklace which comes from the Dreamcatcher collection and is a whole new contemporary take on pearls. The hoops with their removable pearls are additions to the classic collection and will give me a change from Claudia’s geo hoops that I wear pretty much every day. The bracelet goes with my ‘the world is your oyster’ necklace which is my talisman – and gives me hope that the world will be ours again before too long. I love the fact that unlike a bangle it doesn’t clatter as I type so I can wear it all the time.

Lockdown week 5 - Midlifechic

Circle of Life necklace; Favourite hoop pearl drop earrings; The world is your oyster bracelet

Lockdown week 5 prize for kindness

Circle of Life necklace; Favourite hoop pearl drop earrings; The world is your oyster bracelet

And I’m always trying to get Claudia to add more gold to her collection so I was really pleased to see this pair of earrings based on Cowrie shells. I can just imagine wearing them in a bar by a hot beach, watching the sun dip into the sea but I can also satisfy myself that from a distance they look a bit like coffee beans too so I’ll feel I can wear them in winter.

My hair’s a bit better in this picture because I had another go at the sides after seeing the picture above! The bangle is one I bought from Claudia a few years ago and I had the necklace made when we were in Turkey last year because there are some really good goldsmiths there.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic Lockdown week 5

Cowrie shell earrings

Lockdown week 5 prize for kindness

Cowrie shell earrings (also available in silver)

Nominate someone to win £100 of Claudia Bradby jewellery

Now, Claudia has been running an Instagram competition on Fridays asking people to nominate someone who has shown them kindness during lockdown, even if it’s just with the smallest of gestures. The prize there is a £50 voucher but she’s kindly saved one just for us at Midlifechic – and not only that but being such a lovely friend, she’s doubled the value to £100.

We’re not looking for grand gestures, just the thoughtful everyday ways of helping that so many people are giving at the moment. So, I’m handing the comments over to Claudia’s team today, if you’d like to nominate someone who you know has done something kind, please add a few lines saying why and they will choose a winner. You have until Friday 15th May and I’ll announce the winner in the post on 19th May so please remember what name you used because I’ll have no other way of letting you know.

So just to recap, this is what you need to do to nominate someone for a prize for kindness:

  1. Go to the comments before 15th May and tell us in a few sentences what your friend, relative, colleague or neighbour has done to help during lockdown – they may not have helped you, it can be somebody else or an organisation. Remember we’re looking for ordinary everyday gestures of kindness.
  2. Keep an eye out for the post on 19th May when I’ll announce the winner selected by the Claudia Bradby team

In the meantime, to encourage you to support a small business at a difficult time Claudia is offering 20% off all of her jewellery with code MIDLIFECHIC20.

And with that I wish you a lovely weekend, I hope you’re still managing to make it feel like Friday night. I’m going for a run with (or rather way behind) the eldest and then I’ve instructed Mr MC to leave the jetty by 7pm so that we can actually have an evening together. At the moment he doesn’t appear until 9pm by which point it’s too late to start anything really. I’ll be back on Tuesday – take care everyone.

Disclosure: ‘Lockdown week 5 & a prize for kindness’ is not a sponsored post

Competition Ts & Cs

This competition is being run on Midlifechic by Claudia Bradby and the winner will be selected by the team there – not Nikki Garnett or anyone else at Midlifechic. Employees of Claudia Bradby, Midlifechic and any of their friends, family or associates are not entitled to enter. The judges’ decision is final, no correspondence will be entered into and no cash alternative will be given as a prize. The deadline for entries is 15th May and the winner will be announced on 19th May, if it has not been claimed by 26th May another winner will be drawn. No data is being captured as part of this competition however the winner will need to supply a name and address to Claudia Bradby in order to receive the vouchers, in compliance with GDPR, this information will not be held by Midlifechic. The competition is open to entries worldwide.

Recent posts you may have missed

Pandemic diaries, reflections and new retail drops

Trying on pieces for summer at home

Midlife lately – quarantine days and nights

Life in the time of coronavirus – more diaries

My capsule wardrobe for the week – smart casual

Lockdown continues – how are you feeling? 144 comments

Lockdown outfits – keeping spirits high 68 comments

Coronavirus diaries – lockdown week 1 86 comments

Supporting small brands through difficult times 19 comments

Strange coronavirus days 109 comments

Easy Spring looks from M&S

Great British Boltholes – Yorkshire

Spring/Summer 2020 trend update

A casual midlife lately

What to look for when you’re buying jeans

Chatting through the points you raised in the reader survey

What to wear with jeans now – SS20