I’ve written and rewritten this a dozen times in the past week. Just as I think I’ve got it down pat and ready to post, a new announcement from the government comes out and I think, maybe today is not the day to post this. Maybe I’ll just wait until everything has calmed down a bit. But, the sad reality is that none of us know when things are going to calm down. There is so much anxiety at the moment about not knowing what’s coming next and I have been more or less paralysed by it, not knowing if what the world needs now is distraction or straight talking reality. I really haven’t felt comfortable being the person that’s suggesting a cocktail party get together with a smile. But, equally, I haven’t wanted to drown myself or you in miserable facts and figures that you can easily access, if you so wish, elsewhere. So here’s where I’ve decided to fall, with me, just me, what I know and how I feel. Then, I just have to follow my gut on what feels normal, what feels ok to post day after day in the current climate. I might not always get it right, but it’s something I’ll be seriously contemplating and questioning with every post that I share on here or over on social channels. For today, however, let’s start with some personal truths that will explain why you haven’t heard from me in over a week here in this space.
In a nutshell, last week, sh*t hit the fan. But, it did so for so many people. Unfortunately, the story you are about to hear is not unique and you will, undoubtedly, hear it repeated time and again as we move forward. On Monday morning, I went to meet my boyfriend, Steve, in the city after a meeting he had with his employers. All weekend we were braced for the worst, but hoped for the best. At 11am, he heard he was no longer needed. (Slight side note here, if you’ll allow me? It’s amazing how these dark days are showcasing people’s true colours. When everything is back up and running, it will be remembered who was there for their employees and who threw in the towel to save themselves in the first instance. Trust me, it will be remembered and future successes will be determined because of it.)
As the man and I hugged goodbye, to go our separate ways, it felt like things were never going to be the same. How could all of this be falling apart so quickly? Then, half way home, on the overground, I got a call. It was Steve and he had a plan. “When I was hugging you goodbye, I could hear my mom telling me to come home. I think we should. Would you leave London with me? Move to the country? Can you do that?” I’ve never said yes to anything faster in my life.
To give you a bit of a back story here, Steve lost his mother last year to cancer, unexpectedly. It’s been a tough 10 months. After she died, Steve inherited a beautiful house in the country and the two of us had been too busy with our London lives to go back, empty it and put it on the market for renting. It seems the world had other plans for us for the long term. On Monday night, knowing Steve no longer had full time employment and that FFG would undoubtedly see a massive cut to work due to the Coronavirus, we made a plan to move as quickly as possible out of London and into the country. In 48 hours, we packed up our entire lives. I threw half of my life into storage and packed the other half to spend my summer out in the country.
As much as we both felt London has and always will be our home, unfortunately, we instantly found ourselves in survival mode. We both work freelance, and if you’ve been keeping up with government announcements, you’ll know that neither of us are covered by any bailout packages. So it instantly became a game of keeping afloat. Moving out to the country seemed to be our only option and one we are eternally grateful for. We know there are so many people in our same situation that don’t have such options.
But, I won’t lie to you and say it was easy. After I said yes, I must have called my mom and dad three times in one day just checking and double checking I was making the right decision. Steve and I had never lived together before. That’s always a risk for any couple. Throw in a virus, loss of job and changing a city for a country abode and you have a recipe for the perfect breakup. Thankfully it’s been anything but. I’ll never be able to put into words how amazing this man has been and how much we’ve grown through all of this. That’s for another time, however, back to the story at hand…
While quick planning, we were both very aware of the risk of moving at a time when the world was scared beyond belief of spreading infections. We called and spoke to several removals company and eventually found one that sounded as if they knew what was going on in the world, wanted to move us as safely and quickly as possible and were just, well, they were just angels. If you are ever moving in London, please think about using The London Removals Team. I cannot possibly describe how easy they made all of this. They also came in with a price that was half what other larger companies were charging. Please note this wasn’t at all sponsored (ugh, hate I have to even say that). I just picked up a phone, made a few calls and came across the loveliest gentleman that I now consider a true saint for everything he organised.
As we drove out of town, I cried. I cried a lot actually. I was crying for all sorts of reasons. I think I was exhausted, I had no idea what to feel about what was going on in the world, and I was leaving behind my safety blanket. This was my city, what I have known to be home for my whole adult life. As we drove through West London, every single pub I had loved was already closed. The restaurants were starting to board up and the streets were empty. Steve leaned over, grabbed my hand and said, “we’ll be back and when we do come back, it will be the London we knew before all this happened.” I truly felt like I was abandoning my city in a time when it needed me the most. But, it wasn’t realistic, for us, to stay.
So, country life…
We were moved in instantly, and faced a mountain of “stuff” on top of stuff. We hadn’t cleared the house and we were moving two London two-bedroom flats into one house, in one night. The movers unpacked us at 10pm and we went straight to bed afterwards. We knew that we would have to self isolate. Both of us are very aware that London is a hot zone at the moment. We did not want to come into a village we regularly visit and be responsible for bringing any sort of harm to this caring community. Even though neither of us are showing any symptoms and appear to be in perfect health, as we all know, that means nothing! We had several days ahead of us to get through everything. But, we are a bit OCD, so felt the need to slam it all for 48 hours and just get it done as quickly as possible.
Having so much to do for a few days allows you to somewhat forget about what is going on around you. Of course each night we tuned in to hear Boris Johnson speak. We had no tv or internet, so we were limited to our mobile phones and the limited service we had. But, as soon as the work stopped and we were able to slow down a bit, the full gravity of the situation hit us. For me, it wasn’t as much about what was going on here. It was all about how far away from my family I am, how far apart we all are from each other. I have one brother in Italy, one in Los Angeles and one in Michigan. And, as you know, my parents live in South Carolina. None of us are anywhere near the other. My parents are both over the age of 70 and have several ongoing health problems that could greatly impact how their body reacts to Corona. The minute I had nothing to do, that was all I could think of. I didn’t, before now, understand how people could spontaneously burst into tears. Now, I can’t seem to stop myself. Again, I know I am not alone. Families all over the world are experiencing this same emotion on a minute to minute basis. It is our reality.
So this is all really just to say, this is where I’ve been and this is where I am now. You guys are a part of my family and have been for the past ten years, so I thought it was worth sharing what’s been going on. It’s not easy for any of us, this whole experience. I’m not entirely sure what will happen with FFG in the future. Please know I will always write here, always share whatever I can, but the way in which I do that and what I feature may change. Of course travel is completely shut at the moment. Restaurant reviews are a no go and shopping in store is for the future only (fingers crossed). So, content here will change. It’s inevitable. But, I’m thinking up new ways to engage, new ways to share, things to do that perhaps could involve all of us in isolation, but working together. I’m truly placing a lot of time and effort in how to move forward in a way that is sensitive to the situation at hand and I ask for your patience in doing so, but also your feedback. I want to do what I’ve always tried to do and offer up a positive attitude and response to any and all situations, this one included.
Before I go and let you carry on with your day, I hope you’ll allow me to end this with a positive spin. The world may feel like a scary place right now, with no certainty with what will come next. But, I’m already visualising how good it will feel to hug my parents again and how I will never take that privilege for granted. I’m looking forward to big long lunches in the sun, surrounded by friends in London. I’m counting the days until I can walk into a record shop and just peruse the albums without wondering who has touched them before me. Maybe we all needed a reset to understand just how good we all have it.
But, this time we have now can be a time that is useful. It can be a recalibration of our values, our goals, our creativity. That’s how I’m looking at it, while at the same time waking up and going to bed feeling thankful that I’ve spent another day feeling healthy. Not everyone is so lucky, but I am hoping, dear reader, that you too are safe, that your family are all keeping safe, and that, should you fall sick, you will pull through this and come out the other side with an appreciation for what your body can conquer. Please don’t lose the faith. Please remember we, as a human race, are tough as nails, especially if we work together. So, listen to the guidelines being issued by our governments. Do your part, if you are able, to safe as many lives as possible, your own included, by playing safe and smart here on a daily basis.
For my part, I’ll do my best to bring you the daily content you’ve expected and found here for over a decade. No matter what the future holds, as long as I’m here on this earth, I’ll be here online.
Stay safe and stay strong and I hope you enjoy life through the lens of a country girl for a while. Don’t worry… London will be back one day. Let’s just see what that will be…