Lockdown tales

Tim Howlings – Associate

The lockdown presented many challenges for many people, some more than others but one thing was for sure, it affected everyone!

To date I can personally count myself very lucky. My family contracted COVID but they suffered very mild symptoms, while I have remained healthy throughout (touch wood!). While we had our health, the lockdown experience was one of highs and lows.

The most pressing issue at the outset was my impending wedding due to take place in Jersey in a few weeks’ time. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Will the virus still be here in a few weeks? Little did we know that we would all be in this for the long haul. Moving suppliers, most of whom had downed tools themselves, proved to be tricky however, being put on furlough at the early stages made it easier to invest time, something that I wasn’t used to having. We found ourselves lucky that all our suppliers were able re-arrange our wedding at no cost.

Notwithstanding the above I personally found furlough life to be a cathartic experience. I had time to keep fit, pursue my interests and do some DIY, there wasn’t the guilt that I would usually have for not seeing friends and family, and of course, having two months away from the stresses of work was welcome.

Upon being called back to work I felt well rested, and a set up whereby I can work from home was a revelation – though I don’t have children which I am sure would present numerous challenges if working from home. Taking away the stresses and time pressures of the commute was welcome, but I missed human interaction. There was, and is, a considerable amount of give and take in this new world.

I feel the future of the office is as strong as ever however it will not be in the capacity we know. More flexible working for employees will be a must however this may present to be a benefit of the employer. Reduced overheads, a happier workforce who are now open to a better work life balance will only help benefit all involved ultimately.

Claire Madden – Partner

No one said it was going to be easy but in truth it was really not that bad either. The Madden family are lucky enough to live in a Hertfordshire village surrounded by fields. My teenagers, who both had exam years, were having lessons online and after a little more investment in technology myself and my husband were happily working from home.

My biggest issue was elderly parents who live 120 miles away in the suburbs of a West Country City. The first challenge was getting them to stay in at all! The second was technology, the third was how to get items to them, the fourth was all medical appointments were cancelled.

The first job was to we set up an ipad and sent it to them so that face time could become a reality. All they wanted to see was their grandchildren.

The suburbs have lost their local shops and overly rely on the larger supermarkets who do not offer a personal service. This is fine if you can get a slot to get shopping delivered but in the first few weeks this was not possible. Friends and neighbours were so helpful and kind Medical appointments were by telephone and thankfully the GP told my father in no uncertain terms he was not to go out (not just the family nagging!).

COVID has changed many things for this generation. I am pleased that technology is being embraced even if it is a slow process. The weekly shop has stayed online and only small top up shops are required. Social and medical appointments are slowly coming back into the diary.

As a nation we have done a great deal to protect this generation and I thank you all for your fantastic effort.


Graham Ricketts – Partner

One of my sons had already returned home from University for what should have been his Easter holiday, but faced with what looked like incarceration at home for an indeterminate period, he announced that evening that he would like to go back to his digs in Warwick (where his housemates were still living) and would I drive him. Hence I found myself loading the car and heading up the M1, conscious of whether lockdown had actually started and was I bending the rules ?. One of my other sons had last come home from Bristol university at Christmas and also decided to stay put, we didn’t see him again for another 3 months!

In truth lockdown has been quite kind to me, I am fortunate to live in a pleasant house in a nice town with plenty of room and a garden, and with both mine and my wife’s parents having passed away some years ago, we have not had the concerns of many of having elderly relatives to care for. Being placed on furlough was an interesting experience, not least of which temporarily losing access to my one and only e-mail address that I used for almost all internet interaction, hence a day or so of panic setting up a new one and feverishly updating web accounts. Otherwise furlough was largely catching up on much needed (and not so needed) DIY , extensive dog walking, and an awful lot of cycling.

Fortunately furlough was short-lived, just 3 weeks, and then came coming to terms with new ways of working, initially exclusively from home, and latterly back at the office, adhering to the new rules of social distancing and the like. I am old school and found working from home something of a challenge, focussing on work was not always easy with numerous distractions, and no real place to actually set up a home office. With three adult sons at home, with one also working from home, any space and some peace and quiet was at a premium. Of course there is also the much missed lack of social interaction, which I feel is hugely underestimated by those saying that the days of the office are numbered. Hence, some relief when we had the all clear to return to the office, with much reduced commute times due to lack of traffic and of course the ability to work from home if and when it suited, although for my part most days are office days, perhaps with slightly more leisurely starts, book-ended with housekeeping from home at the start and finish of the day.