What I’m up to during lockdown

Pink tree blossom in front of some houses on a suburban street

Hey there readers. How are you going? 2020 has certainly turned into a strange and chaotic year. We are several weeks into coronavirus lockdown here in London, and I’m still just about sane (I think!). I wanted to post a brief update about what I’m getting up to, invite you to check in with me to let me know how you are too, and perhaps even give you some ideas for things to do at home if you’re running low on inspiration.

Mostly, I’ve been continuing to work. As regular readers might know, I work a 9-5 job as an academic librarian. My university moved all teaching and support online a few days before the lockdown was announced, and I know that I am very fortunate to be able to work from home in this situation and to keep my income. It’s been a challenging few weeks figuring out how we can support our students and run a library service totally online, but everyone has thrown themselves into the task, and we’ve been getting creative so that we can continue to help.

That said, as someone who likes to get out and about a lot in their free time, it’s been a massive adjustment to try to relocate and reshape all of my recreational activities into something which can be done within the four walls of my tiny studio flat! My travel plans for 2020 are almost certainly out – my trip to Latvia next month has of course been cancelled, I think it’s incredibly unlikely I will be returning to the Balkans for my summer holiday, and I’m not feeling too hopeful that my train trip to Amsterdam at the end of August will be going ahead either – which also leaves me with annual leave time to fill at home. I’m slowly finding ways to keep myself occupied however.

Rachel with a glass of prosecco in black and white

Celebrating my recent birthday in isolation!

I’m using Duolingo to (try to!) learn Indonesian. I’ve tried many times over the years to learn Spanish but my efforts always drop off, so I’m hoping that by picking a slightly unusual choice of language to learn, I might actually stick with it! You may well question the overall usefulness of my pick, but having spent a fair bit of time in Indonesia, I know how helpful it is to have a basic grasp of the language once you leave the main popular tourist areas. With many more volcanoes still to hunt down there, I will absolutely be returning to Indonesia in the future, and it would be brilliant to be able to have full conversations without using English next time I’m there.

I usually go to the gym three times per week, with a fairly strict schedule on various machines which I follow when I’m there. With the gyms closed, I have had to completely switch up my fitness routine. At the moment we in the UK are allowed to go outside to exercise once per day, so at first I tried going running, but my hips don’t like that very much, and now that the days have started getting warmer I find I’d prefer to save my daily outdoor time for a sunny lunchtime walk, so I decided to start keeping fit online. On the recommendation of a few friends I am now doing HIIT workouts at home with FitnessBlender on YouTube; there are lots of videos to choose from, most do not require any equipment, and you can do them in your room if, like me, you don’t have any outdoor space at home. I am usually left in a sweaty, sore heap on my mat by the end of one of these sessions, so I am definitely burning some calories! I am also trying to practise yoga regularly, either via Zoom classes that my university are running, or with the wonderful Yoga with Adriene. There are so many people offering virtual fitness classes during this time; if you usually go to any classes or a gym, check to see if they have moved anything online.

In a similar vein, I have been continuing to keep an eye on MeetUp.com – many social groups have moved their events online too, including the brilliant Ecstatic Dance class which I attend on Fridays. A quick glance down the list of upcoming local events shows that there is still plenty going on, from virtual board game meetings to online speed-dating! If you’re looking to socialise or meet new people then the opportunity is definitely still there (has anyone tried virtual dating yet? Please comment down below if you have – I am curious to find out how awkward it is!).

I have been managing to write in my diary much more frequently. I have kept a diary on and off since I was very young, but I can easily go months between entries. When something major happens, either in my personal life or in the world around me, I do make a special effort to write it down so that I can capture the experiences and thoughts as I lived through or had them – it’s never quite the same when you try to remember and write them down at a later date, when the event or the incident is over and in the past. I have seen quite a few social media posts recently suggesting that parents could get bored children to write down the story of what is happening at the moment, as it’s a moment in history that they are living through, and this has kept reminding me to write it down too!

A chalked message on the pavement thanking the NHS

I have come to realise that I tend to focus very much on short-term goals; things that I want to do or achieve this month, this summer, this year etc. There’s nothing wrong with that, but during this time of lockdown with no certain end date to look towards, I just can’t fulfil a lot of them. I do have long-term goals – I just tend to not give much thought to them until they become something which is happening imminently – so I’ve been spending some time thinking about and planning for some of my long-term life goals (I would love to tell you more about this but I can’t reveal anything yet!).

Just in case you were starting to think I’m one of those people who is being super-productive throughout lockdown – I’m really not. I’m in fact spending most of my spare time on entertainment; the pile of books that I received for my birthday just before this all hit, Netflix (I know I’m literally years behind everyone else in getting Netflix just last month, but I’m very much making the most of it – I just watched the whole of Cheer in two days and now know way more than I ever needed to know about cheerleading, and have followed all of the stars on Instagram so that I can look enviously upon their abs!), and various other things, and I’m not feeling at all guilty about it. Whatever is happening, whatever we are doing with our lives, we all need down-time, and when our recreational activities are restricted to indoor options, that’s going to mean more screen time. When all of this first started, and working from home was still a novelty, I had all of these plans for how I would make use of my time in isolation. In reality, we are all dealing with a massive worldwide crisis which is on each of our doorsteps; we’re facing anxiety about our own health and that of our loved ones and what happens and when this will end, we’re cut off from friends and family, and we really are in an unprecedented and uncertain situation. We cannot be expected to “make the most” of this time as some are trying to preach. I’m reminding myself that it doesn’t matter if I don’t write a book during what would have been my commute time, or if I put on a bit of weight, or if I don’t learn a new skill; what matters is that I and my loved ones are all currently healthy and can keep in touch online, that I have my safe little space to shelter in and work from, that I still have my income, and that this is temporary. We just have to ride this out as best we can until life can go back to normal.

Something that I have not been doing is working on the blog. I had planned to spruce it up a bit rather than create new content, as no one really wants to read about travel right now, but with my pageviews plummeting (something every travel blogger is dealing with) I have to admit I’m finding it difficult to stay motivated. If you’re reading this post then chances are that you are a regular reader of the blog, so I’m wondering what you might want to see on here in the coming weeks. More posts on things to do when you can’t travel? Posts on the practicalities of planning travel? Travel stories? Or are you actually starting to plan future travel again and interested in destination posts? Please do let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or email me at rachel@theimaginationtrail.com – I would love to know what you’re wanting to read at the moment.

Take care and stay safe everyone.

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