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One Year of Shielding (Part 2)

Carrying on from Part 1 of this One Year of Shielding there have been changes. All parts of the UK are slowly emerging from the 3rd lockdown and there is personal news on the effectiveness of vaccines.

Here in Wales, we are emerging from lockdown cautiously, but similarly to England and Scotland. We’re expecting non-essential shops to re-open this month and maybe outdoor hospitality. Indoor hospitality is at least a month away.

It’s strange to reflect on not going to any type of indoor hospitality since early March last year. No pubs, restaurants, or cafes. I miss the social aspects of that, well most of them! However, we have still made our own fun; home shopping deliveries, takeaways, zoom quizzes and chats, and lots of board games.

And now the big news. I am part of an ongoing national UK health and well-being survey called UK Biobank. I’ve been part of it for many years now and recently they contacted me to ask if I would do a Covid antibody test. I jumped at the chance, with no conviction of a positive result.

I take immunosuppressants and my consultant has urged caution as they don’t know if the vaccine will work. I can report that after one dose I do have antibodies. What an unexpected relief. This has not brought about any major change in our circumstances, as I am informed that antibodies does not necessarily indicate immunity. Basically, the immune response is far more complex than that. I could even be a false positive and not to do with the vaccine at all.

What has changed? A possible indication that I might be able to survive catching Covid, but it’s probably still best to avoid risk wherever possible. On we go then, managing our interactions and minimising risk.

In the meantime, here are my locked down photos for the other house.

One Year of Shielding (Part 1)

Just over one year ago I started shielding. We used the phrase self isolating at first, but I guess that had negative connotations, so shielding it became.

I started when my partner Dinah developed Covid. It wasn’t a difficult decision, but after her relatively quick recovery and two weeks of isolation, she came to stay at my house whilst we decided how we were going to do this.

I needed to avoid all indoor social contact, and maintain my distance from any outdoor connection. Online deliveries, car park waiting, long local walks, baking, takeaway deliveries, working from home, moving all my work online, and zoom quizzes and conversations all became part of our coping strategies.

Looking back now I can see that the greatest impact was the lack of variety of experiences. All pubs, restaurants, cafes, theatres, cinemas and exhibitions were out, and still are. How strange to not visit any of those palaces of distraction and entertainment for a year.

Then of course there were the holidays. Or there weren’t. Trips to The Hay-on-Wye Festival, Majorca and Vietnam were all cancelled. Instead we had a couple of UK based cottage weeks (when travel restrictions allowed) and a week in Chippenham in the van. Not quite the European tour we had imagined!

Instead we had our two houses. They became our main variety. Spending 2 – 4 weeks in one, and then swapping for the other. Not quite the same, but some kind of variety.

As we reached the one year anniversary, I thought that I would create some photos to capture the feelings that this experience has brought. I’ve aimed to create quite claustrophobic photos. Each of them are of one of the windows in one of our homes, I’ll be doing the other one when we’re next there.

I’ve tried to create the photos so that the inside and outside are almost one place, but everything is tightly held within the window frame. I’ve used a 135mm equivalent lens which compresses the depth of the scene and a narrow aperture to encourage the idea that it is all in one small space. Because the outside features were lit by brighter light, I have used fill flash to bring an even tone to the whole photo.

How do they work for you?