Midlife lately – Covid finally hits us

I feel as though I’ve been holding my breath over the last few posts. Covid finally reached our doorstep and I felt incredibly superstitious about mentioning it until I knew we were all through to the other side. So that’s the reason behind the lack of ‘midlife lately’ recently – you see I’ve found that whenever I say what a lovely summer we’re having up here it starts to rain so I was determined not to say anything about Covid recovery until I knew where we stood!

It was the youngest who brought it home. As in so many cities, the virus has been rampaging through the sixth formers at both his and the girls’ school so since they were released from their A Level studies, we’ve gone from being a small district barely touched by the pandemic to one that’s been flattened by it. In the end we got off lightly ourselves; for four days he had a fever, headache and painful eyes but he soon recovered and neither we nor the (single jabbed) eldest caught it. The worst thing was the ten days of self isolation and I just want to talk about that briefly here before quarantine becomes a thing of the past and we forget what it was like to truly lose our liberty. Before I start I want to say that I’m not complaining about social responsibility or suggesting that self isolation hasn’t been necessary over the last sixteen months as we’ve battled the virus- and I’m sure more of you will have been through it than not by now so you’ll already know how it feels. For me though it came as a bigger shock than I’d imagined so I want to log it here as a record.

Over the space of a few days we’d heard about so many people that the boy knew going down with Covid that even though he’d only been in indirect contact with them, the four of us decided to go for a PCR test feeling confident that we’d all be negative. The next morning Mr MC and I went out for a long walk with Ted. We were in the middle of nowhere with no signal so it was only when we got back to the car that I picked up a call from an 0333 number and discovered that the youngest’s test had come back positive and we all had to self isolate. As he’s under eighteen, the Test & Trace caller needed me to answer questions on his behalf and unthinkingly I asked him to wait while I buckled my seatbelt… and that was when things started to feel a little sinister.

As you’ll know if you’ve been on the receiving end of a Test & Trace call, it’s like speaking to an automaton because they read from a script. On hearing that I was in a car, his tone of voice changed as he told me to stop what I was doing while he switched screens to give me an official warning. Even though I’d made it clear that I’d had no signal and so hadn’t picked up the text messages or emails telling me my son had Covid, he moved into the official chapter telling me that I should not have left the house and was open to an automatic £1,000 fine. I was given instructions to drive straight home, reminding me that I had a civil duty not to stop along the way or to speak to anyone we might pass and things suddenly started to feel like the opening scene of an apocalyptic disaster movie.

So we headed home and as I walked through the front door he was starting to ask questions about who the boy had been in contact with recently. The youngest was lying prone on the sofa, FaceTiming his girlfriend and so I was able to ask her directly for her contact details. This of course triggered the operator to divert to another warning screen because he thought she was in the house with us and despite the fact that I told him repeatedly that she was on FaceTime, he insisted on getting to the end of yet another script about fines and social responsibilities. And I know he was just doing his job but there was something very strange about being in my home and being told by the government what I could and couldn’t do. I think I’ve mentioned before that I spent 2013 researching the rise of power of Nazi Germany for a novel I plan to write (one day). I’m not for a minute saying that we’re approaching that level of authoritarian rule here however I do think we’ve had a hint of how it might have felt at the very beginning, as freedoms were slowly eroded with some public assent behind the whole process albeit at various and often unwitting levels.

I came off the call feeling quite shaken – it’s a long time since I’ve been ‘told off’ and it was infantilising. Mr MC and the boys found it funny watching my reaction but it’s a strange feeling being told what to do and not being able to reason with the person who’s insisting you’re in the wrong. As we looked ahead at the next ten days I found it was the small things that frustrated me most, in particular not being able to take Ted for a walk when we’re surrounded by empty fields. We’re both double vaccinated and we took lateral flow tests every day which proved negative. And of course I understand that there has to be one rule for all so I’m not arguing about the facts, simply about how it feels to lose your liberty especially when logic and your personal circumstances suggest that it doesn’t make sense. It sounds as though self isolation orders are under review and may change on 19th August. After being unaffected by the virus for so long in our semi-rural area we know so many families now who’ve suddenly had to put life and work on hold – some of them for the third or fourth time and one for the fourth successive week. As tourist numbers start to rise around here, huge numbers of businesses are having to close for self isolation even though the Covid contact may just have been somebody buying an ice cream. At some point we’ll have to find another system or all amenities in the Lake District will be shut as we approach peak tourist season in a matter of weeks. Let’s hope there’s a safe and sensible way through it all.

As the rest of the world carried on around us I found self isolation harder to deal with than national lockdown – and it certainly didn’t make for good fraternal relationships when the eldest couldn’t watch the early Euros with his friends in the pub! Anyway we’re through it now and life has resumed, I don’t mean to make more of an issue out of it than it was but I do feel it’s important to have logged it here because these are the days that will mist over with time. It was interesting to experience what was effectively house arrest and it taught me even more about the value of freedom. Of course we were very fortunate that the youngest didn’t suffer too badly and that the rest of us stayed well. And we had Mr MC’s brother’s birthday to look forward to at the end of it, a small get together of the Geordie family that we’ve seen so little of over the last year… and just as we arrived in Newcastle we received a text. All plans were cancelled… because they had to self isolate!

May we never forget what this time was like. And of course, it’s not over yet.

Midlife lately – Covid finally hits us – isolating

So I don’t have any exciting outfits today. Naturally we’ve spent a lot of time at home and while the boy was feeling rotten I forgot all about taking photos but as he improved we picked up the camera again. My Academy programme at the gym was hit, there’s only so much you can do when you can’t even go out for a run. However the sunshine was a blessing and I made a point of dressing in gym clothes on days when we needed to at least do a few bodyweight exercises in the garden.

Mr MC has a new foe on his decking; the ducks land and poo as soon as he pressure washes it and the squirrels have now joined in by stripping the bark from the trees and throwing it at him. There are times when we feel as though we’re just walk on characters in a Beatrix Potter book.

Midlifechic sports kit

Running top; Leggings (in the sale, more sizes here); Vapormax (SS18)

Ted of course couldn’t understand why we weren’t taking him for walks. Even though we did our best to keep him entertained he was like a coiled spring – a bit like the eldest who sat grumpily behind his computer muttering about the drawbacks of little brothers… a theme he’s been keeping warm since 2001.

Midlife lately - Covid finally hits us

Khaki breton; Chinos (gifted SS21); Birkenstocks (now in the sale)

I wore souvenirs from holidays past to lift my spirits and remind myself that there is a world outside my own four walls!

Midlife lately - Covid finally hits us

Cannes film festival t-shirt (SS19); Jeans (now in the sale, gifted SS21); Stories sandals (SS19)

Patriotic red and white – the nearest I get to a football strip when I’m watching it (and I’m still trying to wear in my Vejas but they continue to be uncomfortable compared to my other trainers, they’re the buy I regret most this year). You have to find joy in unexpected places and if it wasn’t for self isolation Mr MC and I probably wouldn’t have watched the Euros – they’ve been a real source of magic moments this year haven’t they? Even though we’ve continued to watch the matches at home it’s amazing hearing the whole village erupt around us every time England scores.

Midlife lately - Covid finally hits us

Hush dress (SS20); Trainers

Midlife lately – Covid finally hits us – release!

And so life went on until we reached our hallowed date of freedom and headed over to Newcastle for the get together that never was. It felt good to be somewhere else after ten days of being at home even though it wasn’t as warm and sunny at that side of the country. We walked for miles because we were just so grateful to be able to operate on our own agenda.

What to wear for a city break over 50

Next cropped denim jacket (SS19); Boden silk collarless blouse (sold out); Jeans; Trainers (now in the sale)

You can see by my face that I really wasn’t looking forward to this early run after not being able to do anything for so long. We promised ourselves breakfast at The Baltic afterwards as a reward and that kept me going.

Sports kit for women over 50

Running top (in the sale); leggings (in the sale if you’re quick); running shoes (sold out)

We had a great night at The Everyman watching Priscilla Queen of the Desert – I hadn’t seen it, what a great movie.

Summer outfits for women over 50

Silk blouse (in the sale, gifted SS21); Jeans; Boden shoes (gifted SS18)

Here the famous fog was down on the Tyne and Mr MC was watching with amazement as my freshly washed hair turned into Shredded Wheat in front of his eyes.

Night out outfits women over 50

Next cropped denim jacket (SS19); Ribbed t-shirt; Jeans; Stories sandals SS19

And lastly we had an early walk in the sunshine, it was baking hot although torrential storms were forecast for later in the afternoon. I’ve had my name on the waiting list for this skirt for ages and it sold out as soon as it came in but a few have arrived back in stock if you’re quick – it’s lovely and light for wafting around in. We were filling in time while the middle one packed up the stuff in his uni room so that we could take him home. He hung on for as long as he could but his first year at university is over.

Midlife lately - Covid finally hits us

Ribbed t-shirt; skirt (gifted SS21); sandals

He had a lot more than we remembered… and Mr MC had also found it impossible to resist the lure of more Ercol while we were away so the journey home was perhaps a little squashed. I don’t know how to take the sound off so forgive me for muttering away about another cancelled project in the front of the car but I thought you might like to join us for the moment of our departure. He posted this to his brothers titled:

“Petition to stop Dad buying any more tables!”


And so there we go, another chapter in the Covid diaries chez nous. I wonder how this summer is going to pan out – let’s hope the sun shines brightly and things get better not worse. This blog is currently being used as reference by somebody who’s writing about lockdown and I hope that’s the way it will continue in the future so if you’d like to log a thought or experience then do in the comments. I know I don’t need to remind you that we’re all having very different experiences so even though it’s difficult to imagine what everybody’s going through, please be as thoughtful as you can – I’d hate anyone to ever feel hurt by anything they read here.

One last note on the sales, Hush added 200 new items to theirs here yesterday, there are some great bargains – I’ve never seen them have so much sale stock selling so slowly though. And John Lewis & Partners have jus done their final round of markdowns with some categories going up to 70% off in the hub here.

Happy shopping, have a brilliant weekend – and enjoy the football if you’re watching. Come on England!

Disclosure: “Midlife lately – Covid finally hits us” is not a sponsored post

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