Cody playing with large stick

Life under coronavirus lockdown has not made much difference to us at the Sticks. It has curtailed our political activities and pushed action group meetings onto the now notorious Zoom platform but other than that our somewhat solitary lifestyle has served us well. With our garden and small holding on site we are lucky enough to have the space to enjoy most of our outdoor activities without the need to venture off our own property. In the new social division "people with gardens and people without" we are definitely in the former, lucky group.

When, partly in jest, we started our Good Life, Rooted to the Spot project in response to Brexit we didn't expect it would prepare us for coping with restrictions in response to a pandemic.

Shopping has never been my strong point, we have used on-line grocery shopping for twenty years and I am years ahead of the re-use recycle trend in clothes, mainly out of necessity because I hate trying to find new clothes. 

Apart from delivering groceries to my elderly parents once a week - we've added their requirements to our regular order - I've only been out once since the lockdown and that was to collect the Student (part time) from Manchester airport on her arrival from Los Angeles via Amsterdam. 

When I say collect, what I mean is deliver her car for her to drive herself back. The government may not have thought quarantine for arrivals from abroad was necessary but it wasn't difficult to see that governments with a better track record then ours did. I'm not ashamed of copying best practice, even if it wasn't made in Britain.

As we arrived in the almost empty car park my phone dinged: "I'm out. Where are you?" 

She spotted us before we saw her, and then there she was. After three months away it was a relief to see her. On this warm sunny, t-shirt day, she looked out of place in her three layers of winter clothes (too bulky for her bags), her home made face mask (compulsory in LA Country from where she had departed the previous day) and safety glasses. She stopped several metres away from us, waved both arms in the air and we mimed a hug.

Louise arriving at Manchester Airport

I left her car keys in her car, walked away then watched as she hauled her bags the last few metres and hoisted them into her small car. It was simultaneously strange and oddly normal not to hug her or help with her bags.

I sat in the Webmaster's car and watched as she peeled off her layers of winter clothes, adjusted the drivers seat, searched for her credit card to pay the parking fee and rummaged through her bags for protective gloves in case she needed to key in her pin. 

"Follow us and don't forget to drive on the left," I shouted across the empty parking spaces between us.  

Since arriving home she has confined herself to her bedroom, the bathroom (for her exclusive use) and a small part of the garden. Social distancing is maintained at all time inside and out. I hope she doesn't get too comfortable with the drop and knock room service or her exclusive use of the bathroom. It will be a relief when I don't need to go downstairs in the night for a wee, clean my teeth in the utility sink where I normally wash plant pots and empty buckets or have to wash my hands every time I put her used dishes in the dishwasher. 

In the meantime the dog, who is definitely not impressed with "staying in being the new out and about" - chasing sticks in the garden isn't as good as meeting his canine mates on Marshes Hill - has taken to sitting outside her room at meal times, licking his lips and waiting for the used plate to appear through the door;  a small compensation for his unwilling sacrifice resulting from our domestic quarantine routine. Don't tell him but we're on day twelve now, so we're hoping he'll only have two more days of licking plates.