By Lorenza

(In response to the ‘journey’ task)

I fear I have become one of those people fixated onto one subject. But I can’t help but feel the whole of the last 12 months as one long life journey, experienced in slow motion. 

I can’t help but feel the difference between each lockdown. 

I felt privileged in Lockdown 1.0. It gifted me the opportunity to slow down enough to step away from the everyday noise of life business that had kept me from listening to my own thoughts. I was certainly not the only one for whom lockdown 1.0 help re-evaluate a lot of stuff. 

My lockdown 1.0 was also fraught with double the worries, with most of my family in Italy I lived the fear of the pandemic twice. 

In Lockdown 2.0 I lost my dad. Suddenly and unexpectedly. Numb and shocked I managed to fly home despite our national lockdown to help arrange his funeral and say my last goodbye. 

In lockdown 3.0 I am dealing with grief and sorrow, felt like waves, they come and go in between keeping busy with work and family life. In lockdown 3.0 I’m slowly trying to make sense of the last 3 months, which feel like 3 years. 

And across my journey of the last 12 months I find myself wandering through the whole life journey of my dad. He was 38 when I was born. I was 38 when he died.

I lack concentration and focus to take my own photos at the moment. But I look through the over 4,000 I have on my phone from the last few years quite obsessively lately. I bookmarked each and everyone one with dad in it. Not that many, actually, in the end. What do we take photos of, on our phones? Who for? 

And then I look at these three photos I have of him, charting his life journey from a young school child, to a young adult, to him at my wedding – this photo used at his funeral and that remembers him now in his resting place at the cemetery. 

When I went home, after the funeral, before I left to return to Manchester I sought something with his handwriting on it. He loved poetry. He used to write poems out on random pieces of paper that you’d find scattered here and there around the house. 

I found one. A poem by Fernando Pessoa. I took it home. Two weeks ago as I was yet again sorting through more paperwork dealing with the aftermath of his death, I turned the paper over. Random writings of some appointments or other. And at the bottom I read in Italian “La morte non è niente” (“Death is nothing at all”).

Just that one line, stained by one of his many coffees. I don’t know when he read it. I don’t know when he wrote it out. Because of the pandemic, last time we had seen each other in person was Christmas 2019. 

The wickedness of this pandemic.

I found the poem online, first in Italian as I wanted to understand the words as he would have read them. And then I found the original, in English. 

I share it here, as I feel and hope it will bring small comfort to anyone who happen to read this entry. 

“Death is nothing at all” 

by Henry Scott-Holland

Death is nothing at all. 

It does not count. 

I have only slipped away into the next room. 

Nothing has happened. 

Everything remains exactly as it was. 

I am I, and you are you, 

and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. 

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. 

Call me by the old familiar name. 

Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. 

Put no difference into your tone. 

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. 

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. 

Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. 

Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. 

Life means all that it ever meant. 

It is the same as it ever was. 

There is absolute and unbroken continuity. 

What is this death but a negligible accident? 

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? 

I am but waiting for you, for an interval, 

somewhere very near, 

just round the corner. 

All is well. 

Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. 

One brief moment and all will be as it was before. 

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

By Karen

(In response to the journey task)

Puppy walk.


Constantly disinfecting the front door.

Coffee and cake, what used to be a treat is a weekly if not a daily requirement now!

Zoom call with a relative when the first 5mins is a view of the ceiling.

Way too many cocktails, but I figure since a cosmopolitan has, cranberries, lemon and orange liqueur it’s got to be good for me.

By Georgina

It took many weeks of lockdown for me to reach a point where I felt aligned with the slower pace of life; with spending time at home, with only my partner and children. These things I had actually been dreading when we first learned of the lockdown, but then came to treasure as the things I had really been craving all along.

The photo I am submitting is called “every day I get a little bit more ‘fuck it!’”.

On this day, at 3pm, I opened a can of gin and tonic, took a book, and sat in the garden…and felt released from the compulsion to always be busy. 

This journey took 8 weeks. 

By Anonymous

Serving up for one too many

I am a (hopefully temporary) single parent. I need to make food and activities suited to one adult and two kids. What I’ve realised is I’ve got a set of normal divisions I do for food every day – 6 sausages is 1.5 each, or 1 each for the kids and 2 each for the adults. A pack of 4 scones is one each. Four handfuls of rice and add one for the pot.

When I’m clicking through the Tesco order (still on his account because he booked the slots and texted me his passwords before they put him on the ventilator), I have to strip down and remove a ton of the items he had put in, which I now realise only he was really eating. 

Our apple consumption has plummeted – the kids like Granny Smiths and he likes a Braeburn. There’s a pile of Braeburns I’m trying to sneak in to people’s stomachs at any opportunity. Nobody likes the cheese and onion crisps in the variety pack. I need half the eggs, half the milk, and I don’t need any Bombay mix at all. 

The £40 free delivery limit is hard to reach now. We just don’t need as much. It’s another scratchy little reminder that everything is not normal at the moment. 

The non-optional nature of lone parenting seems to help make it more bearable. I’m not desperate to get out for a walk on my own the way I was when it was available to me. The whole thing is *so* unfair, that a small piece of unfairness like that doesn’t really register. You can’t spend the whole time staring into the abyss. 

Other people’s tubs

There’s a pile of tubs and Pyrex dishes in my hall. I’m trying to keep a mental list of what belongs to whom. 

People don’t know what they can do. Most often, those nearby respond by cooking. A friend who’s been through something similar told me early on ‘accept all offers of help and food’, which hasn’t been the worst plan, but it does mean you need to accept what you’re given, even if it’s far healthier than you’d make yourself, or contains ingredients I mostly struggle to get the kids to eat. How galling too, when they wolf something when it’s come from someone else’s kitchen they would never accept from mine. I watched on with barely concealed outrage last night as my youngest chomped through a pile of chicken and wild rice with fresh coriander. Coriander! 

People further away send hampers. We’ve had 5 hampers in 10 days. I’ve redistributed the chutney and wine – I’m not drinking, and we’re not chutney people. I’m sending a child to choose some biscuits to open, and we discuss what we like and dislike about them like entitled gastronomes. We fret about when we’re going to cook our own food. 

Of course I’m grateful and see my luck. Imagine doing this without a big group of friends and family trying to help. Imagine doing this without children to distract you from staring into the void.  So, I try to thank people ‘well’: I try to make it appropriate, not fall into cliches. It’s a small exercise in staying creative. 

Sometimes it feels like nothing helps. But really it all helps. Who am I to question the ‘quality’ or ‘appropriateness’ of the help people are trying to offer? What helps one day might not on another – it’s all so random. They’re not psychic, and even if they could read my mind, they’d find it such a jumble they’d need to sort through it with tongs and possibly a scuba mask. 

I’ve been in their position, and I’ve been absolutely rubbish at finding the right thing to offer. Because really what you wish is to make the bad situation go away. Make the sick relative better, make the depression or the cancer or the grief leave someone’s body. And you can’t do that so you make a lasagne. 

What it tells me is we are loved. That there’s a community around us. And if I can untangle my jumbled head a little, and ask people for things, most of them would sell their car to make it happen. 

By Akasha

Self portrait task

I became a mum at 12:43 on a rainy Thursday in October 2020, and I’ve never felt luckier. 

I found out I was pregnant a month before the first lockdown and was lucky that my manager suggested I start shielding, since the impact of COVID on early pregnancy was unknown. 

I was so lucky that I knew my midwife and she could do a home booking, I remember laughing with her about how surreal it was being on the other side of an appointment, being the one to answer all the questions instead of asking and explaining. 

I was lucky my partner was able to come to an early pregnancy scan a day before the ‘patient only’ rule came into force. Even though our baby was just a tiny bean, we were able to experience that together, as parents should. 

I was lucky that I had the support of my colleagues at appointments when my partner couldn’t attend. I was lucky the weather was so lovely, I spent most of those months gardening or reading in the sunshine. 

I was lucky to have an incredibly empowering water birth, that my baby was completely healthy, and I was home that night.

I’ve been so lucky to be surrounded by family during the second and third lockdowns, to have my mum in my bubble and the mountains on my doorstep.

Like most people becoming parents during COVID, my arrival into motherhood hasn’t been particularly ‘normal’.  I attended most appointments alone, there were months of isolation, no baby shower or showing off my bump, very few people have met my baby and grandparents watch him grow over FaceTime.  But despite knowing how hard life has been for so many with everything going on in the world, I’ve been so lucky.

By Hayley

I wear my hair in a scarf most of the time to hide how long its been since I found time to shower so this feels pretty representative of how a mother’s wellbeing comes last.

I’m a single mother to a 4 year old in reception. I have two jobs (though the second is my own business and I’ve not had any work since the end of Feb 2020) and I’m also at uni.

I have no familial support or bubbles.

I feel like any empathy for parents ran out in lockdown 1 and furlough is much less of a thing, or carries heavy subtext that furloughed staff are putting themselves in the redundancy firing line. 

I wake at 6am, do home schooling and try to find time for household chores amongst school and work meetings. Most days they’re timed in such a way that we don’t have time to go outside or cook lunch or dinner – toast and bananas are fuelling us through 2021.

At 8pm once my daughter is asleep my proper work day begins. I work until 3am, and have had to let my studies slide entirely so I can sleep for 3 hours.

I’m not coping and have been suffering hallucinations and migraines from lack of sleep and even in those 3 hours I find myself often stuck with insomnia and lie awake going over doubts about everything: how come I have no one? Why is my child being deprived of all social interactions and a decent crack at education? What will be the long term impact on her? And me?

I’m not able to keep my cool at all with my daughter the next day, and if I’m not shouting I’m wracked with guilt. They seem to be the only states I exist in.

By Georgina

I took this photo on Tuesday 5th January 2021, at around 13:00pm. 

The 5th January was the first day of lockdown number 3 in the uk, and it meant my two children had not gone back to school, and with such a last minute decision from government. Thrown into the deep end. 

It was also my first day back at work after two weeks off over Christmas. I expected it to be a busy day, and I had not been looking forward to returning to work because of that. I really needed to be concentrating on getting back into work mode.

I was happy that my children were at home, but in contrast to the first lockdown, there was now the sudden expectation to support children to homeschool. I attempted to juggle the first morning back at work, and the first morning of homeschooling two primary-age children, with growing feelings of anxiety, frustration, and despair. By lunchtime, everyone was angry and upset.

Nature is a big part of our lives anyway, and we are lucky to live on the edge of a town where we can access country walks within minutes of our home. We went for a lunchtime break, knowing it would make us all feel better. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. 

The effect on all of us was almost instantaneous. This imagine captures me in a moment of serenity; feeling the warmth of the sun, and feeling the comfort of it. I experienced a real sense of perspective, having left the stress of the house and the responsibility of work and homeschooling, to just BE. I vowed in that moment to accept my limitations as a person and a mother, and to not expect to be able to do it all. We have not had a morning like that since.

By Juliet

Some days I feel like I don’t sit down.

Always standing, waiting and responding to the next snack/drink/help request.

The days feel very repetitive.

The children bring colour and life into the house but I feel bland.

Hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel.