Just what do you do...
once you've deep cleaned your house?
If you have been watching our Sunday services online, and I sincerely hope you have, then you will have seen me taking part in those too.
In “Life before Lockdown” I am a trampoline coach. I also work 8 hours per week for Aberdeenshire council, teaching pre school gymnastics. I have been doing that for over 30 years and love it. So, on the 19th March, exactly 2 months ago, like many other people we stopped working. I say we, as my husband John, is a trampoline coach also. We had been due to go down to Telford the next day to a British competition but this was cancelled as all competitions have now been for the foreseeable future.
John and I had such busy lives, we worked Monday to Friday and then often spent whole weekends at competitions either in Scotland or around Britain. When you add in squad training dates and Performance Pathways for our gymnasts, we certainly had a pretty non- stop diary planned right up until July. Then, after the British Championships we had planned to take a week's holiday, followed by coaching summer camps for the rest of the holidays right up until the schools went back. Busy, busy, busy!
But like so many others, our lives have completely changed. Our pace of life has altered significantly, and we love it! Yes, we miss coaching and most especially we miss seeing our gymnasts. Normally I would see about 200 young people during my working week - now it is none, or at least not in person, that is. We had no choice in the Lockdown and I understand that it is for the very best reasons that we need to stay isolated, but I think it has also made it easier to accept that life had to change.
Like everyone else, deep cleaning of the house was my first task. Washing anything that even might have been dirty. Tidying, and clearing out cupboards - but with the tip and all charity shops closed we soon realised there is little point in clearing out with nowhere to take unwanted items. Gardening has been both joyful and endless and there are still jobs to be done! We have been so blessed with the weather. Then there has been the daily soup making, and the planning of our meals all now cooked from scratch as there is time to do that. Zero waste is absolutely paramount, and the sense of satisfaction in using up all leftovers is astounding. Baking - not something I normally do - is included several times a week now and along with that eating! I think I might have gained a few pounds during this time of lockdown, is anyone else with me in that?
Alan asking me if I would help with Church services was hugely welcome and I have really enjoyed being able to do so as it has been a real privilege to be able still to connect with my Church family in this way.
Missing seeing family and friends is probably the hardest part of this time but we are so grateful for all the many ways we can communicate with them and blessed that in this day and age we can see who we are talking to, not just hear them. My mother at nearly 89 years of age has discovered how to use Facetime and zoom which is just fantastic. She is going through this lockdown alone and knowing I can see her and we can talk whenever we want to is just so wonderful. My siblings and I share a catch up about our mum along with little snippets of our lives daily just now which is just so special. We have missed family weddings, 2 so far, birthdays and other special occasions but like every family in the land, plan a huge family get together when we are able to do so.
There are many horrendous sides to this lockdown and I do know how lucky I am. I know that this time has taught me to be more appreciative of so many different aspects of life. I hope I remember the excitement of being able to buy toilet paper, flour, pasta, sugar - to name just a few. I pray I remember to truly value the ability to see all my family and friends when I choose and plan to spend more quality time with those I love. I must remember to slow down in life, when the option is there once more to fill my diary with work, I hope that I won’t take it and that I carry on enjoying this slower paced but very rewarding way of life. We live in such a beautiful place and I am enjoying God’s creation immensely and seeing things anew with fresh eyes, each and every day. I feel truly blessed right now and I thank God for the kindness shown by so many to those in need. God's love is clearly seen in action and work every day, helping me and so many others through this extraordinary time in our lives.
Well just what did you do after you had deep cleaned your house?
I have not even got on to my daily exercise - I think I will leave that for another Blog - if Alan allows me back again, as that has actually helped me through this time more than I could ever have imagined.
Melanie Stewart Wills
The Bucket List:
Mine contains four items, two of which require further lists.
This lockdown has been a great opportunity for list-keepers. Firstly, it has been possible to review, examine and tidy up all the lists. More importantly, it has given me time to reflect on whether any new lists are necessary. One glaring example stems from the very first days of the lockdown. People went wild panic buying and stocking up on the most amazing items. Banchory supermarkets were full of people who had nothing to do with Banchory (the badges on the children’s blazers are the giveaway) raiding our shelves to the detriment of Banchory residents. The supermarkets began rationing products. What rôle can a list play in all this? To be ready, just in case, for the next lockdown (which I hope never to see) a list is needed of those items which flew off the shelves at the end of March in order always to have a stock of these. And a strange list it is. Toilet rolls (naturally?), canned tomatoes, rice, flour, yeast (for the bread-makers amongst us), tonic water (yes, honestly) and lots more. The fact that there was also a run on baked beans does not worry me. They will not figure on my list of necessities – ever.
I am often asked “What is the point of all these lists?”. Way back in the age of steam, it was a question put to all those enthusiastic trainspotters (males of all ages – apparently the hobby did not appeal to the ladies). The point is that there is no point. They can, indeed, provide innocent fun. For example, choose an exotic ingredient (turmeric, for example) and find on the recipe list something which includes it to be cooked for supper. The lists can stir memories. Reading them I remembered the excitement of landing in America for the first time forty years ago and the ten-year-old boy who was enthralled to see England and France for the first time sixty years ago. Or that book I remember reading on a particular beach one summer. Using the book list, I avoid buying books I have already read (though clearly they did not leave a great impression!) Yes, sometimes my lists can be useful but if you are not a list-keeper it is impossible to explain to you why we list-keepers find list-keeping so enthralling.
As I finish writing this, I have realised how I will spend part of the rest of lockdown. I will draw up the ultimate list. A list of lists.
Did someone say OCD?
Grandbuddies is one part of the East Church’s evolving Children and Families School's programme involving Hill of Banchory and Banchory Primary schools. The idea is to give the children an opportunity of interacting with the community outwith the school environment. In particular it provides a connect with an older generation that many of the children either do not have or only to a very limited extent.
It was set up by Sarah and Alan after a very enjoyable visit with a class from an Aberdeen school to a local church where something similar was happening. After discussion with Banchory primary school and Hill of Banchory school heads and deputes, she adapted what she had seen to fit the facilities at Banchory East church. Unfortunately, Sarah fell ill just as the scheme was to start, but it is testament to her marvellous planning, that George Montgomery was able to step in as Grandmaster of the Grandbuddies and the programme could proceed.
So far there have been three well received sessions in February and March with one school attending twice. The church provides help with walking the children from school to the hall when required. Thank you, David Laing for your help in this. Sadly, after three, the need for social distance meant we had to stop meeting regularly.
Getting to know each other was an ongoing process throughout all the sessions - all of us exchanged information on every manner of subject including favourite meal, work ambition, colour, book, hobby, pet and so much more. Who knew so many in one class could be supporters of the same football club? It was a heart-warming indication of the connect between the age groups that quite a few of the children who had attended a previous session recognised and joined up again with their original Grandbuddies.
Activities included the children taking along their favourite books and reading passages with several reading to the whole assembly. Origami was another prominent part of a session with many of the children 'instructing' the adults on how to complete the various items. To another session John Wills brought details of the new Banchory Coat of Arms and gave an interesting talk pointing out the many similarities with the children’s school badges.
Our Grandbuddies have very much settled in to the scheme as reflected in comments such as ' I wasn't sure what might be involved but now that I have it has been thoroughly enjoyed'. The children and the staff too have been appreciative and we all look forward to recommencing the sessions in the future where we plan to produce a collage in two parts, part to hang on the church hall wall and part to be displayed in the school.
Banchory East Church
A journal of the life of the East Church through our members and congregation.
We post on Tuesday and Thursdays. but not always every week.