Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Wendy Barkess

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Rhiwbina resident, Wendy. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown!

I am so lucky.

Normally at this time of year I’d be deep in festival land, preparing to go out in my little campervan to Chippenham, Upton and many more throughout the year. I’d have spent the long Easter weekend at the Camping Club Folk Dance and Song Easter Meet, where members from all over the uk gather for daily workshops in singing, dancing, musical instruments and craft, culminating in a grand finale concert. All cancelled, and for good reason.

At Chippenham and Upton I’d have been playing my concertina with friends for the Wild Thyme Morris side, and enjoying concerts with my favourite performers. I’d be preparing for my annual May walking holiday with my friend Sue, and this year for the first time I’d have been heading to Nantes for the Cardiff-Nantes Exchange visit. Maybe next year?

Here in Rhiwbina, where I live, I would have been fitting in much of my limited free time trying to coax veggies into life in my four raised beds, ‘baby’ sitting my 2 wonderful grandsons, hosting the U3a folksinging group in my house, going to Tenovus choir one evening a week, hosting a small folk band at my house, going to the ukulele bash once a week at a local pub. I’d be singing and playing at gigs in care homes, attending the Club de Francais, and two local book groups.

But, instead of all that, I’m at home, going nowhere. I fall into the category of vulnerable by age, but not vulnerable enough to qualify for special deliveries by supermarkets. And that’s where the luck comes in! I’m lucky enough to have weekly deliveries of fruit and veg; lucky that my daughter lives nearby and brings whatever I need. Lucky to have enough seeds left from last year to get my veggies in the soil and give them far more attention than they would normally have time for. Lucky that we live in an age of technology that means I can teach the boys French on Skype, continue most of my groups on Whatsapp and Zoom, and enjoy physical workouts with Joe Wickes and singing workouts with Gareth Malone.

But what about proper exercise, I hear you say? I’m lucky because last year I had health problems that meant I couldn’t walk much, but this year they are resolved and I’m back to my target of 10,000 steps. I have to do them in the garden, but now, in the rain, I can go out again, reclaim the empty streets, because most people prefer to walk when it’s dry. Before the lockdown, I hardly saw anyone walking on the streets in daytime, and in the rain, it’s the same.

I miss my friends of course, but we talk on the phone and text and Skype, etc. My sons live in Dubai and Singapore and are in their own lockdowns. I am so lucky that I don’t have parents living, they have been spared all this. I cant imagine a time when I will be unafraid to mix socially again.

I haven’t been in Cardiff long enough to have made longstanding friendships, but the most astonishing and heartwarming thing has been how friendly and helpful everyone has been.

I’m so lucky to be retired and well; It does concern me that there are many less fortunate than I who are struggling to get through this. I am full of praise for those who are brave enough to continue working at a time when people like me can hide away safe and sound.

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