Good morning, evening or afternoon, depending on your lockdown sleeping pattern! My last blog was C word free, however it’s becoming harder to avoid talking about the Coronavirus and how things have changed. So, in this (rather long) post I am going to share my experience of isolation thus far and hopefully you can pick up some new tips and tricks on how to keep yourself afloat too. On that note, I have heard the same analogy being used a lot lately which I’m sure will ring familiar with a lot of you; “I’m fine, everyone is going through it right? We’re all in the same boat”. But we are not in the same boat. We may be in the same storm, but our ships differ from yachts to dinghies, from crew members to resources. So as a disclaimer, what works for some may not for others and it’s okay not to know what to do with yourself. After all, we have little experience of worldwide pandemics, thankfully. Just like revision, it can take a while to find your style and what works for you. So, this is what I’ve been up to (no duck sitting or sitting on ducks as the title may suggest, no ducks at all in fact!), with some links and ideas if you’ve already exhausted Netflix, Dalgona coffee and banana bread or your fridge is empty (again).
I came home from uni on the 18th March, I was lucky to get home as the trains were being cancelled left, right and center. In quick succession the uni gym, libraries and other facilities closed. We were set to go home in two weeks for Easter anyway, but our abrupt departure meant we missed out on the end of term socials, especially St Patrick’s day, which is always huge in Liverpool. Until now I hadn’t calculated, but it’s been 7 weeks since I left uni with my bulging suitcase, and even more since I last went out in town. I recently heard my favourite club might be on the brink of closure and what with our vet Summer ball being moved back, I am very excited for when I can next go out and celebrate belated birthdays and the end of exams in true student fashion. Seen as I haven’t even started exams yet you can probably guess I’m already chomping at the bit to finish. On the other hand, I am actually extremely grateful to have had a purpose over the past few weeks. A reason to get up on a morning, besides delicious buttery toast made with my Mum’s homemade bread. I knew from the start I would have to keep to a routine in order to stay motivated, and so I made a rough plan for each day to see me through to exams. My interview for the Scarborough Municipal Grant was postponed, but my rent was cut; swings and roundabouts I guess. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the tearoom where I planned to work part-time had closed and my lambing placement was cancelled too. Although lambing is deemed essential work, my placement across the valley presented too high a risk for the elderly shepherds. With even more time on my hands, I knew I needed to fill my days with a healthy balance of uni work, entertainment, exercise and sleep.
With little else to do other than studying (and letting my eyebrows grow wild), it would be very easy to just focus on that and that alone. Its every student’s dream to have enough time to revise before exams. With usually just one week off between 12 weeks teaching and the start of our exams, it can seem nigh on impossible to revise those 12 weeks, never mind the previous semester’s 12 weeks too. From the start I treated uni like a 9-5 job, working weekdays with weekends off. I have kept to this, it works for me, and with my parents at work through the day it means I have the house to myself to set up on the dining table. With double doors that open on to a lovely view of the moor, I am very fortunate indeed. I’m used to long periods of revising now, making timetables and organising my time. I like to know what I’m doing each day, and with only the odd Zoom lecture to structure my time around, I knew I needed to find a regime I could rely on each day for direction. It comforts me to know that have the time to revise and I do not miss the usual stress of cramming for exams.
Surprisingly, I still find a lot to write about in my diary, and equally this blog… I find it easy to busy myself and lose track of time. I can honestly say the lockdown has flown (I don’t mean to brag). Although, March seemed to drag, April disappeared in a flash. Writing my diary is useful for a lot of things. Especially recalling memories, but as I turn each page, filling each journal, it reminds me to make each page count. As cliché as that sounds. Speaking of pages to turn, I’ve read more than I’ve read for a long time. Most 90s babies and millennials have resorted to re-living their childhoods: playing board and video games, watching old TV series on Disney+ and even playing on Nintendos. I remember ‘Nintendogs’ and ‘My First Vet Practice’ fondly, but for me it has to be reading books. I’m on my 7th book since I came back from uni. I’ve read all sorts but as my exams were approaching, I thought it was about time I read some of the vet related books I hadn’t got round to, the ones I’ve been lent and accustomed over the years from charity shops and birthdays. So, I’ve reviewed a few below, no spoilers, giving my honest opinion (that no one asked for):
Tales from a Young Vet: Mad Cows, Crazy Kittens, and All Creatures Big and Small by Jo Hardy
An easy read. Interesting for outsiders and by that, I mean non-vet students. She starred in BBC 2’s Young Vets with Judy Puddifoot, who I have met and love her postgrad drive, like myself. Jo’s book was a little basic for me, she lived a pretty normal student life. Apparently her second book is good if you’re interested in wild animal vet content. Personally, I just want to know if her and her boyfriend, that she only saw once a year, got engaged.
Adventures of The Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen
A wholesome read. More about her house renovation and children’s lives than her own or the farm, but worth a read to round off the series. I love reading about the Dales side of Yorkshire in comparison to the moor. 100% recommend her first two books and James Rebanks’ book The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District, for similar content. Both books have taught me a lot about sheep farming.
My Yorkshire Great and Small by Peter Wright
A passionate read. I’ve been dying to read this book since I got a signed copy from Peter at uni talk about his life as a vet. Knowing the areas he spoke of extremely well, I felt like I was able to connect to the places I couldn’t currently travel to, learning new facts about them and also new places I need to visit. Having met ‘The Yorkshire Vet’ from Channel 5’s programme; Peter, he reminded me so much of my Grandad; I instantly fell in love. I can’t wait to read his other book, which is apparently more about his vet life than his surroundings. I’d like to read his co-vet, Julian Norton’s books too (he follows me on Instagram don’t you know).
Listening to the Animals: Becoming The Supervet by Noel Fitzpatrick
A must read. Where to start! An apology: I’m sorry I listened to what other people/ vets had told me about you Noel. I know you’ll never read this but I’m sorry I let the jealous and financially driven people you talk about in your book change my view of you and persuaded me to believe you were arrogant and acting for the camera. Such an honest book, hard to read physically and emotionally. An actor (on Heartbeat no less – twice!), a radio show host, a dreamer and a doer, besides being an extremely qualified, hardworking professor, self-made business owner and simply brilliant vet. From rough beginnings he made his dream a reality and One Medicine (One Health) has always driven my studies too, so I hope to meet Noel one day to thank him for reminding me, to always form your own opinion of people and follow your dreams.
Vet on Call: My First Year as an Out-of-Hours Vet by Marc Abraham
3/5 (so far)
An unfinished read. If Hardy’s book suited a younger audience, I’d say this book is the opposite. FYI worth noting, I’m not actually a book critic, but so far so good. Many small chapters full of stories that I’m used to seeing in practice but usually throughout the day. Marc lacks support from his peers like Fitzpatrick, and no one believes in him when he sets up his own out-of-hours practice. I must admit, his sleeping pattern would scare the life out of me. I’m enjoying the relevant content though, kind of like recreational revision. My Mum thinks I’m mad, but I just feel inspired.
Of all the books I have read I realised that the majority of our ‘vet idols’ are male, despite the majority of my course and the veterinary sector being female. Maybe I’ll write a book and inspire young vets in the future, who knows.
I’ve been watching TV too, I’m not a total book worm. I’d definitely recommend ‘Liar’ (not just because my Aunty is in it), ‘Our Girl’, ‘Normal People’ (Yes, Connell’s chain), ‘Killing Eve’, (obviously) ‘Made in Chelsea’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. PSA: Students can watch ALL the TV shows and films that have EVER been on TV via ‘bob Learning on Screen’ for FREE (you can thank me later). Alfie and I have been loving the live action films on Disney+, The Lion King especially. I’ve also been watching the weekly National Theatre productions and The Show Must Go On – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s productions each week. I’ve loved getting back in touch with my love of the arts. I’ve been reading some classics, sketching and writing poems too, just for a fun at the weekends, I’m not considering a change of career!
For anyone who had somehow missed the memo that I live in the middle of nowhere, I will just say that there’s very limited walking opportunities. Now that sounds mad considering I live in the middle of a National Park, full of woods, walks and paths, but what I actually mean is, it’s incredibly difficult to go anywhere without hitting a massive hill. Sadly, my bike is at my Grandparent’s and the pools are closed, so I’m back to running after a year off because of my knee. I’m really happy with my qua-run-tine, even if I only have the one route down to Falling Foss and back up the (incredibly steep) bank. With a lot of people driving to exercise, I am constantly dodging people which baffles me considering the population of Littlebeck is less than 10, and that includes my two cats. Better than life in a block of urban flats though, even if I see numerous different people playing on the same rope swing and eating their picnics with their hands…
I’ve been walking a lot with Mum too, trying to find loops and avoid the inclines, both which have been a struggle. Trying not to be out all day is difficult, so we mostly do ‘out and backs’. I love Les Mills BodyBalance at uni and I’ve recently discovered they do a free barre class too. So, I run every three days and do balance or barre on the days in between. Stretching has been a life saver whilst spending so much time sat down and I’m closer to the splits which is cool (still can’t do a handstand though). I’ve been video calling my workout buddies to do ‘Isolates’ with which is fun if you’re bored of the solo experience.
Socialising with the Distant
I didn’t realise at the time, but my last social occasion was a charity pub quiz held by the Trusty Paws committee, unfortunately we didn’t win. At least we didn’t win a golden turd like the last pub quiz I entered at home… Despite virtual quizzes taking off since the lockdown, I am still yet to win. But wish me luck for ‘The Lockdown Olympics’ tonight. I have really appreciated the weekly video calls and catchups with family and friends. I miss playing ‘Come Dine with Me’ and watching ‘Liar’ with my house mates, but our weekly quiz and Instagram fitness account keep me laughing. Just knowing that I’ve got friends on my course, that I would usually see every day, on the end of the phone to understand my uni stresses is a blessing, and I love hearing about their crazy pets and love lives. I would usually be meeting up with friends from home over the holidays, but we’re keeping in touch and I’m incredibly proud of them for working hard on their dissertations and job applications. My family have made a group chat for our daily updates and photos of our entertaining, furry co-workers. We miss each other but we know that if we keep our distance now, we can have the rest of our lives to enjoy family BBQs and pizza parties. I keep getting asked how I am managing with a long-distance relationship, and the truth is, it’s really bloody hard. Unlike at uni when I count down the days, (for once in my life) I’m not thinking too far ahead. I am just living each day and appreciating having someone there for me, over the phone, when I wake up and before I go to sleep. Thank you for having my back, lending me books, entering my Grand Designs housing blueprint competition (where someone drew not one but two hot-tubs in their garden…), and for baking me comfort food. I’m fortunate to live with a resident chef also, so thank you for doing the weekly shop and disinfecting it. Most importantly, thank you for staying at home, for the sake of our whole family, we can do this! I couldn’t be any more safely distanced and thankful for the internet, for which I couldn’t study or socialise.
I miss my clinical skills group, aka the Loose Women, and can only imagine the discussions we’d be having on the current circumstances. We’re all hoping that things will resume in September, but I’m glad that whatever happens I’m still a vet student and one way or another I will learn the skills I need. I must say uni have been incredibly good with us too. I don’t listen to the news or radio if I can help it, I see enough on social media and with half of it being old news or fake news, I find it healthier to tune out and just get on with what I can control. I’m not being ignorant or hiding from it, I just know that the constant information overload is incredibly depressing and unhelpful when I’m currently content with staying at home, I know all I need to know for now. I’m not counting the days up or down; I’m just taking each day at a time. Maybe one day I’ll be on the frontline of a zoonotic or animal pandemic (like Foot and Mouth or BSE) and I’ll be facing the crisis from a different perspective, but I know that whichever shoes I’m in, every challenge has its learning curves which help prepare us for whatever life throws at us.
Big loves and stay safe, Evie xxx
P.S Thanks for the pictures, keep them coming. All I’ve taken photos of recently have been my pair of covidiot cats, so bear with.
The Loose Women ‘Come Dine with Me’ with Floss the week before lockdown
The golden turd and tonight’s Lockdown Olympics host
Lizard gift from Estee
The cat’s isolation ‘garages’
Nora lending a paw/ taking over my desk
Estee my running coach
Murray enjoying the sun
Ted enjoying some lockdown tunes
Nala and Gary having a Maine Coon cuddle
My last one spot from my Nanny
(and a documentary on sheep farming in the Lakes whilst I study, yes Mum herdys!)
Non cat related animal content
Estee is totally over the whole lockdown thing now…