After months in Leicester I'm away, and frankly it's confusing. Also wonderful, but definitely confusing. I'd committed to going North to see my father (and other family, including my 'baby' sister who will be 30 whilst I'm with them - we think it will be the first time I've been there for her birthday) a couple of months ago when it seemed unthinkable that Leicester would still be in lockdown.
As it turns out the rest of the country is currently joining Leicester in lockdown, but after the water failed in my building a few weeks ago I'd more or less moved out of my flat, and the city. It isn't easy living alone under local lockdown restrictions when your support bubble is out with the city limits. One of the many things that hasn't been clear is if they come under the same restrictions as I did if we're seeing each other. I also found it weird listening to endless complaints about the rule of 6 when I'd spent so long with the rule of none. But then as has been clear for a long time, lock down is not the same for everybody. My experience as a person living alone in a city that had never been out of lockdown is very different even from some of my immediate neighbours.
Anyway. Away is good. I've been in the Scottish borders, a place I love, and which isn't short on space. We're lucky in that my family has a flat in an old country house here, it feels safe for us, and more importantly for our neighbours to be here, and there was work which couldn't be put off any longer. I've been helping my father move some really substantial Victorian furniture around so that old moth infested carpet could go, and new moth proof carpet be fitted. We've also got the hot water fixed and done a few other jobs, and I'll finally be going to Shetland with him tomorrow now that we're definitely a single household.
If I sound like I'm trying to justify myself, I am a bit. This all feels odd to me. I've checked and double checked, and don't think I'm breaking any rules, even under todays new guidelines, but after so long on my own in my flat it all feels too good to be true. There have been unexpected things such as the mental and physical benefit of having really long views again. After months of horizons that are never more than a few hundred yards away, hemmed in by buildings, the nightly headache has lifted, and my eyes are nowhere near as sore as they had been. I assumed I needed a stronger lens prescription, but it turned out to be a change of perspective that was missing.
There are have also been the expected benefits of having another person to cook for and eat with, of being able to walk for an hour or more without meeting another person and feeling safe, of fresh air, trees, and I cannot over emphasize this - space. This part of the world excels at providing big open spaces, along with small private spaces, and it feels like heaven right now.
I don't know what the next months will bring. I've already got a distressing number of friends suffering from long covid, and others dealing with the mental health repercussions of this year. I hope we can find ways to be kind to each other, to not forget those who are lonely and vulnerable, and to make peace with the rules that are put in place.