Friday, 29 May 2020

How My Girlfriend & I Are Surviving Lockdown Apart

The United Kingdom has now been in lockdown for over 9 weeks due to Covid-19/Coronavirus. Whilst some restrictions have been eased I think many of us are mostly concerned with when we can have physical contact with our loved ones again, I know for my girlfriend and I that's our biggest question. We live about an 1 hour and 30 minute drive apart and haven't seen each other since March, like many couples across the world we are missing each other massively. At first it was painfully difficult and the uncertainty didn't help, slowly though we began building routines and putting things in place to stay connected, getting creative in our ways to spend time together. So today, I thought I'd share some of the things we've been doing to survive lockdown apart in the hope that it might help others who are struggling.

Creating routines

Something that we've developed over the past 3 months are some routines, set times of the day that we know we'll be speaking to each other over facetime. Right now I think a lot of us feel very out of control and I know for us having these routines has given us the structure we need and also the reassurance of knowing that we will always speak at certain times of the day. On weekday's we have breakfast together, which is the most perfect start to the day and I find we really motivate each other during this time to have a positive day. Jemma is working from home so we also spend her lunch break together and then we facetime again just before bed. Of course we talk in between but having those set times has really helped us both!

Reading books together

Both of us are big readers and so reading together seemed like the most natural step! I have to say my family couldn't quite understand why we'd want to sit in silence reading different books over facetime but there is something really peaceful about it. We might not be in the same room but doing the same thing together has really helped to restore some kind of normality. It's also really fun to have someone there to share your immediate reactions with as well! We've even been reading to each other, I'm very much enjoying Jemma's performances of the Emilia script at the moment.

Sending small gifts

Amazon wishlists are one trend that Jemma and I are fully on board with. Pre-pandemic we'd often buy each other small gifts or write each other postcards and it's something that we have continued during lockdown and I think it's more important than ever. We're lucky to be financially in the position to do this and it really has been putting a smile on each other's faces when a little something arrives in the post. Whether it's snacks, books or even a make your own llama kit, it's been sprinkling a little joy into our days!

Giving each other space

Now this is a really important one. I think it would be easy for us to spend all day talking, all day on face time together because we miss each other so much but we both also recognise how important it is for us to give each other space when needed. Whether it's popping your phone down to have a relaxing bath or having a takeaway with your family, time apart can be just as important as time together. And those routines we've created means we always know when we're talking next so we're never left in limbo wondering when the other will resurface! Communication really is key.

The uncertainty of not knowing when we'll be able to see and hug each other again can be so difficult and I think it's important to remember that it's okay to have bad days, we are in the middle of a pandemic after all. Through it all though we support each other and I am honestly so proud of ourselves for how well we've coped, as well as every other couple, family members and friends who are currently apart due to the virus. We are all doing great and some time in the future we'll look back and it will feel like it all went by in a flash.

If you've got any other tips for surviving lockdown when you're separated from your loved ones then I'd love to hear them, let's help each other get through this!

Saturday, 9 May 2020

What I've Been Reading During Lockdown

One of my biggest goals for 2020 was read at least one book every month, I set this goal after I finished 2019 having read a grand total of about 3 books. I've been a bookworm all my life but it seems to be one of the first things that goes out the window for me when I'm busy, and 2019 was a very busy year. I started January with the mindset of making it more of a priority though and found that I'd fallen out of love with reading a little because I wasn't reading things that interested me. One of the first books I read this year was a dystopian novel called Vox by Christina Dalcher and it truly was the book that kicked it all off for me, it was exactly my kind of story and it helped me to find others that would grip me just as much. My girlfriend Jemma also helped to recommend some books that would be my thing and so far I've already read 15 books this year! I don't know how I'd be coping without books during lockdown so I thought I'd share some of my highlights from the past 6 weeks.


This was a recommendation from Jemma that I bought after she spoke so passionately about it that I couldn't not give it a try! The Bees is about exactly what it says on the tin, it follows one bee in particular called Flora as she navigates the hierarchy of a bee hive. It was a fascinating read from the perspective of learning more about bees themselves and all these little things they do, but it was also an enthralling read that captured my imagination. It took me a little while to get really into it as picking up all the bee language took a while but once I had I was glued to it. It also made both Jemma and I cry at the end, it really is a beautiful story.


If you follow me on Instagram and have seen my stories where I document every book I read then you'll know that I'm a big fan of medical non-fictions, books written by surgeons, doctors, nurses etc. For most of my childhood I wanted to be a doctor and that fascination has never left me, in fact my own experiences with hospitals and medicine from the perspective of a patient has made me even more interested. I'm a big fan of the show Silent Witness which follows the work of forensic pathologists so when I came across this book written by one of the UKs top forensic pathologists I knew I would love it, and it really did not disappoint. I finished the 441 page book in 4 days after I simply could not put it down. If you're squeamish then this isn't the book for you but I loved hearing in great detail about the cases Dr Richard Shepherd had worked on over the years, including some very high profiles one. I was also fascinated by all the different processes that are involved when someone dies suspiciously, and how these have changed greatly over the years. It really was such a gripping read!


Just before lockdown began I went through all the books that live under my bed, I don't have space for a bookshelf in my room so they live in storage boxes and this often means I forget about books. This was one of the books that I'd completely forgotten I had and it was quickly added to my 'to be read' pile when I found it! It's one I've been meaning to read for years and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it because it was truly an eye opening read. In the UK we are taught next to nothing about the messy parts of our history, including slavery and the general treatment of people of colour and this book covers it all. I really think that every white person should be reading this, because I guarantee that despite how 'woke' you think you are, this book will show how much more you could and should be doing.


I'm pretty sure every book I'd read by doctors up until this point had been by men so when I came across this book about a female prison doctor I knew it would be exactly my thing! I didn't set out to read it all in one day but I got so hooked and soon enough I'd finished it in a day. Dr Amanda Brown gave up her position as a GP in a community she worked in for years and ended up moving to working in a men's prison where she seemed to find her calling. She also went on to work in a women's prison too. This book gives you so much insight into prison life and for me, a renewed empathy for a lot of prisoners. I really felt for the women she talked about at the end who found themselves stuck in a cycle of crime after rough starts in life. I definitely went into this book thinking a lot of her job would be patching up prisoners who have been fighting but that couldn't have been further from the truth! It was truly an incredible read.


Alongside medicine the other thing that fascinates me is space, specifically space travel. One of my favourite films is Apollo 13, I love reading up about past space missions and life on the international space station and I keep up to date with all the advances that are happening. I can't get enough of it! I read astronaut Tim Peake's first book a few years back and raced my way through it, so when I found Chris Hadfield's tucked away in a box unread I knew it would make it's way on to my to be read list. I didn't think it possible but I enjoyed this one even more than Tim Peake's, it went into a lot of detail about the whole process and journey that is becoming an astronaut. It's one of the toughest jobs in the world to attain and for Chris Hadfield as a Canadian it was even tougher and it was so interesting to hear that your chances of visiting the ISS depend on how much money your country contributed to it. Which is why most astronauts are Russian or American! This book really did give me all those little details that I was eager to find out and now there are several other books written by astronauts sat in my Amazon wishlist.


This final book is another recommendation from Jemma and wow was it a good one! I don't read a lot of crime novels but this one had me hooked from the start. If you're a fan of Killing Eve then this will be a great book for you as it follows a female serial killer. I very quickly found myself rooting for her! There's a sequel to it as well that I also read very quickly and I really cannot recommend both of them enough. I also love Skuse's writing style and I'm currently reading another book by her called The Alibi Girl that has the same recognisable and easy to read style and I am loving every page so far. If there's one author you check out as a result of reading this post, let it be her!

If you're a bookworm too then I'd love to know what you've been reading during lockdown! I'm always looking for more recommendations now that I'm back to reading everyday, that's certainly one good thing that's come out of being forced to stay at home more.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

5 Things I Want To Do After The Covid-19 Lockdown

We're now into our 6th week of lockdown in the UK to help slow the spread of Covid-19. At the beginning of all this everything felt so surreal and so it's hard to believe so much time has since passed. With anything in life my general coping technique is to always have something to look forward to. I think for a lot of people they are finding that tough since there is no set end date in sight right now, but being disabled has taught me a lot about coping in these situations and for me it's still so important to have those things to look forward to. I know I will be able to do them at some point, for me this is kind of like when I was fundraising for my new powerchair. I had no idea when we'd reach the goal or when I'd actually have my chair but planning the things I'd do once I had it kept me positive and motivated and so I'm implementing that during the current pandemic. So, here are just a few things I want to do post-lockdown/social distancing! I'm aware some of these things might take a lot longer than others to happen but that's okay!

Shona, a powerchair user, is elevated in her powerchair and wheeling down a street amongst other people.


Jemma and I are one of many couples across the world who have been forced apart by Covid-19 and the lockdown. We knew that it was going to happen at some point but that didn't make it any easier when the reality of not seeing each other for a while hit! So, one of the first things I'll be doing when I can is heading off to hug her and never let go. We've been making lockdown work though! We call or face time every lunchtime and evening (and sometimes have breakfast together!), play games together virtually and watch Drag Race together. We recently spent our 1st anniversary apart but Jemma planned the most amazing day and we made the best of it, but I just can't wait for that first hug!


Learning to drive is something that I've been planning and thinking about seriously for well over a year now, but towards the end of last year I set it as a goal to start in 2020. I've been saving away every spare penny for months and was just about ready to get the ball rolling when everything kicked off. So, as soon as I can post lockdown/social distancing I'll be looking into Motability cars and learning to drive and I can't wait. It will make my life so much easier!

2 women at London Pride, they have a pride flag drapped across them both.


Like every theatre fan right now I am really missing going to the theatre, but not just the shows themselves though. The social aspect, the atmosphere, the memories made. But, I'm also really missing photographing shows. At the beginning of the year I treated myself to a couple new lenses and since then I've barely put my camera down, until I was forced to. Photography is something I was seriously starting to pursue and whilst it's frustrating to have had the breaks put on that, I know I'll be buzzing with energy and passion once I have my camera in my hands again.


Now, I think this is something that is on a lot of people's lists. I'm really lucky to live in an area that has Deliveroo so we've still been able to treat ourselves to a takeaway now and then but I really miss just having a meal out with my girlfriend. In particular, we're missing Yo! Sushi. It has become quite a regular spot of ours for a pre or post show meal and it's time together that we love, so I can't wait to be sitting by the conveyor belt ordering half the menu once again!


At the start of the year Jemma and I started to talk about wanting to go away for a weekend to somewhere in the UK, somewhere we'd not been before. Both of us wanted to go to Scotland and we managed to settle on Glasgow in the end, but before we could even book it the Covid-19 situation became more serious. So, we're really looking forward to being able to book ourselves a little holiday once things have settled down.

It goes without saying that my priority is of course doing whatever I can to slow the spread of Covid-19 and I'm happy to stay home for as long as necessary, but I am really looking forward to getting a little normality back in some form. Lockdown has had it's positives though, I'm reading so much more, I'm taking part in weekly quizzes and I do love a good quiz and I've just generally slowed down. There's definitely things I'll be continuing even after life returns to normal.

What's on your post Covid-19 list of things to do?
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