Lock Down Loneliness

As we all emerge from Lock Down Three, we will be keen to focus on looking forward to the new world and the ‘new normal’ as it is called. I am the sort of person that looks to the future, rather than the past and I certainly don’t want to think back to the dark days between January and March this year. I have come through all the lock downs and tiers physically healthy but mentally mangled. Lock downs never got any easier and I found Lock Down Three particularly tough and lonely.

Readers might live in a friendly street where your neighbours smiled across the road as they clapped on a Thursday night in Lock Down One and continue to check in regularly via a Street WhatsApp Group. I imagine this is the sort of street that, in Before Coronavirus days, held a communal street party. I don’t know where these streets are but in all the places I have lived [just seven streets in five places so a limited sample] I have never experienced anywhere like this and mostly hear about them in the media and soap operas. Do they really exist in the real world?

Thursday nights at 20.00 during Lock Down One were quiet here on our Morecambe road. No one shamed us into going into our front garden to clap for the NHS. We were therefore taken by surprise when a Zoom call with two friends in a wealthy part of Greater Manchester had to be cut short so that they could join in the clapping. They risked being socially shunned by the neighbourhood if they didn’t show their faces!

Wherever we have lived we have always got to know our neighbours but we had only lived in our Morecambe home for four months when we were confined to its four walls. We had met some people at tai chi classes and were on chatting terms with the residents either side of our house but there was still some way to go to feeling a part of the community. Although the sunny weather during Lock Down One meant we did meet a couple more neighbours from across the street while we were out in the front garden I certainly wouldn’t say that it was a chance to settle into a community. Most people around us are retired and the majority of our neighbours are single households so we are surrounded by a generation who are terrified of catching Covid-19 and who kept themselves to themselves. Any chances to get to know them were fleeting and superficial. The only positive in the first lock down was spending time with our immediate next door neighbour. We saw him pretty much everyday and with all the time in the world we enjoyed long chats over the fence.

Lock Down Three has been a totally different scenario. Even our chatty neighbour was curled up on his sofa in the dark winter months of January and February and we have hardly seen anyone. Thank goodness in January our tai chi teacher eventually got to grips with Zoom and for the last three months our weeks have revolved around his entertaining Wednesday classes.

When we moved to Morecambe we thought we would meet people in our new town by joining some clubs or groups, attending some events and seeking out like-minded folk. The steps we had made towards this before Lock Down One kicked in were small. It isn’t that I want to be part of a community WhatsApp group but Covid-19 has certainly made settling into a new town more difficult.

We know we are lucky to have each other, lock downs have been very lonely for single people. But life has been so different for everyone. For the most part, and for the first time in our lives, geography has determined our social life. Most, but not all of our good friends are in the north west of England but as lock downs and tiers came and went we were constantly cancelling plans. In Lock Down Three we couldn’t even see two long-standing and close friends who live locally. In normal times we would meet as a foursome for a walk but the rules only allowed two people, not two households, to even take a stroll in the open air.

Lock Downs have been lonely experiences for me and they must have been miserable for others. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I always look forward, rather than back. This can be positive and also a cause of anxiety. Even as we take the small steps to a restriction-free life, in a corner of my mind is a dread that another lock down will come out of the blue! And so, I am seizing the day and can’t wait to be back on the road again on Monday 12 April.

Author: Back on the Road Again Blog

I write two blogs, one about my travels in our campervan and living well and frugally and the second about the stories behind the people commemorated in memorial benches.

9 thoughts on “Lock Down Loneliness”

  1. Carol, that is rather sad and poignant – I’m so sorry to hear you’ve felt this isolated in your new location. It makes me feel very grateful for our friendly cul de sac with it’s cheerful socially distanced chats if anyone’s about when we go out, the cul de sac WhatsApp Group, which kicked in magnificently in Lockdown One and off bits of shopping could be asked for & brought back by younger neighbours, who keep an eye out for our more senior residents (not us!) one of whom is 91. But we do have resident children too, which is refreshing & always brings a smile. We’ve had 2 new sets of neighbours who were immediately invited to join the group & made welcome. There’s been talk of a street party when it’s all over, but the entire estate turned out for street parties for the Wills/Kate wedding & the Queen’s jubilee. There’s also a Face Book group for the estate, which is friendly & helpful. I think we’re very lucky indeed. In lockdown I’ve sometimes wondered if it’s a bit lke the Truman Show – every one says hello, but if I manage to get to the trees & the sky at the bottom of the hill, would I be able to pull it apart & see what’s behind it?! Tat’s how lockdown has got to me – feeling confined & not free to travel, so we do have lots in common there and are looking forward to being able yo go away and stay away, rather than take short very local trips in our van and have an “awayday” & escape the humdrum scene for a while. Revel in the freedom & reslish getting thos wheels back on the road again. And take care too…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Joyce. Your cul de sac sounds very cheerful and I didn’t mean to sound too sad, it is what it is. I think a mixture of age, lots of people here don’t have a clue what WhatsApp is, and that working class reticence which means that people prefer to keep themselves to themselves. Of course, lots of people locally are putting their energy into doing amazing and generous things, particularly around food for families and children who have little and they only have so much energy left over. You take care and hope you escape the humdrum soon too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Carol,
    I’ve found this last lockdown pretty damn awful too. Very lonely. Very miserable. Hopefully seeing folk out and about again will lift our spirits, although I’m not sure I’m ready to go back into the big, bad world yet..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello. I’m sorry, but not surprised, that I am not the only person who has found this tough and have missed family and friends. The big bad world is on its way to you tomorrow! If July 4th last year is anything to go by, I think they will all be smiling and friendly and I hope they are kind and understanding and do lift your spirits. Take it easy and take care.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well written Carol, and as Joyce said, very sad too. Prehaps you and I should go and live in Joyce’s garden? Where I am, at the other end of the county, is similar to you. I can go weeks without seeing a neighbour and have occasionally joked in a macambre way that if it were not for my husband, my body could lie at the bottom of the stairs for some considerable time before anyone noticed 🙂

    I am not remotely glad you’ve had such an awful Lockdown 3, but really appreciate what you have had the courage to publish – it does help to know I’m not the only one who has had the same experience of 2021 as you. Like you I prefer to look forward, so much so that this week I went slightly mad online and booked four campervan trips with the 5th “under construction”! Take care, I hope things improve soon for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. I almost didn’t publish this, I thought maybe I was being too self-centred and full of self-pity but I was trying to be honest and I have clearly struck a chord with others. I think it is important that we acknowledge how awful lock down has been, even while recognising that there probably wasn’t an alternative.
      Thank goodness for your husband! I befriended an elderly woman in the flats where we lived in Salford because she had fallen in her flat and wasn’t found for three or four days. She fortunately survived but I always felt it was so sad that she had no regular visitors to check in with her regularly. Unfortunately, there are too many people living alone and isolated. Joyce’s garden would be perfect for all of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Carol, moving to a new neighbourhood is not easy and even more so during this past year with 3 lockdowns. We live in a friendly neighbourhood, but I also feel very lucky to have my sister living at a walking distance from me. We would often meet up (socially distancing) for a long walk together. I hope things will start getting better and fingers crossed the latest lockdown will also be the last. Enjoy your trip 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you and yes, please let this be the end of lock downs! I’ve just found your blog and added it to my following list so congrats on getting your first dose and hope you enjoy Cornwall. May is a lovely time of year to be there.


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