Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one following the orders to stay at home.
The news is full of rule-breakers. Police breaking up house parties and illegal raves. Fines for individuals travelling hundreds of miles for a picturesque walk. Busy supermarkets where social distancing is forgotten.
Meanwhile the rest of us sit at home, wondering if our quiet sacrifices will be enough to save the lives of loved ones.
As lockdown continues, the Press and Journal caught up with some residents from around the north and north-east to capture the feeling of a community united in isolation.
The coronavirus pandemic may have forced us all indoors, but we are not in this alone.
Words by Philippa Gerrard
Pictures by Sandy McCook, Kami Thomson and Kenny Elrick
Eilidh, 44, and Graeme Gilchrist, 43, run a guesthouse in Inverness where they live with their two sons.
It’s been a really worrying time,” Eilidh said. “We bought the place three years ago and it needed a lot of work. Finally the rooms were looking the way we wanted them and we were fully booked for the summer, but then things fell apart. I’m very anxious and we’ve been contemplating selling. We bought this house as a business and can’t afford to live here if it’s not up and running.”
Linda Clark, 52, lives in Kintore with her two grown up daughters and Labrador Dexter.
It’s been strange having the girls back here,” said Linda. “I was so used to being by myself, it was a big change and took us a while to get into a routine. Emma was working in London when lockdown happened and Ashley (pictured) was studying in St Andrews. I don’t think either of them expected to be back in Aberdeen and living with their mum again.”
Reverend Shuna Dick is the Minister at Cults Parish Church in Aberdeen. She lives at home with her husband and son.
2020 was the year that technology became our friend. We’ve been putting out a Sunday morning service on YouTube and it’s been really well received. It’s meant we’ve had to learn all sorts of new skills – filming, editing, social media and more. I’ve even got a ring light and a tripod now.”
Anna and Darren Patience, both 44, live with their two sons in Blackburn.
My husband and I were furloughed for pretty much the whole summer,” Anna said. “It wasn’t what either of us wanted to hear but we lived in our own little bubble, just the four of us, and just kept to ourselves. I don’t think we will ever get that time together as a family again. I’m back to work now and my husband unfortunately has possible redundancy looming on the horizon. But we just have to get on with it.”
Jane Candlish and Angus Grant, both 40, live with their two sons and Sparky the dog in Grantown.
We lost our mum and toddler group and couldn’t see friends, but other than that we have still been doing our usual routine,” said Jane. “Drawing, baking and playing in the garden. I feel very lucky in that sense. Angus is an art teacher and has been teaching from the garden shed. Not all his students have art supplies at home so he’s been getting creative and setting them challenges to use coffee and tea to paint with.”
Ebi, 28, and Emmanuel Sinteh, 30, run a small business from home in Kingswells, where they live with their two children.
I actually left my job during the pandemic as the business got a lot busier,” said Ebi. “But it’s been difficult to source materials during this time and Brexit hasn’t helped either. That week where the borders were shut was just chaos. Candles are our biggest seller and there was a national shortage of wax. We just couldn’t get hold of it anywhere to fulfil our orders. It’s still in short supply now.”
Dennis MacGillivray is 81 years old and lives by himself in Inverness.
I’ve got used to being on my own since my wife passed away six years ago,” said Dennis, “so I’ve just been getting on with it. It’s no use being worried or upset about something you can’t change. I’ve got four grandchildren who I miss seeing though. I’ve just had my appointment to get the vaccine, so hopefully this will be over soon.”
Debra Kirkness is 54 and lives with her partner in Newtonthill.
I’m an optimist by nature,” Debra said. “I thought ‘this (lockdown) won’t happen unless it really has to’, but it was all so sudden. We were in the Arts Centre one day and at home the next. My company, Music 4U supports young people with physical, neurological and mental disabilities. It’s not been easy taking it all online, but the children need that feeling of structure and connection more than ever. It’s been my salvation.”
Duane Mead is the curator of the Rendezvous Gallery in Aberdeen.
We’ve been here for 46 years,” said Duane, who lives across the street from the gallery. “I used to curse these large windows and having to curate them, but during the pandemic they’ve been heaven-sent. We’ve turned things inside out, so the artwork now faces onto the street and people can peruse the gallery from outside. Every time I look out there is someone looking in. One woman even handed me a fiver to say thank you for providing art on her daily walks.”
Brother and sister Jansen, 28, and Jasmin Ramirez, 25, share a flat in Torry with their cat Kuro.
We’ve both been working throughout the whole pandemic,” said Jasmin, who explains they both have jobs at a major national retailer. “It’s really weird to think that back before summer no one wore masks. Until it became mandatory of course. Then work gave us face shields. But Jansen still caught Covid just before Christmas. We hoped it was just man-flu but the test came back positive.”