26 weeks

Reflections and Hope

Reflections and Hope

Listening to the oyster catchers as they returned from their winter beach, I remembered my conversations with Donald. He regularly spoke of the patterns of his day, week and month, creating a rhythm to his lockdown life: monthly meetings, regular and predictable; each week ending with writing his blog; and his daily joy of reading to his young daughter. He described these as giving him both comfort and structure.

The oyster catchers herald the beginning of a new, yet ancient, cycle. A year ago, while working in the NHS, preparing for the tsunami of COVID, I became obsessed with these birds. Watching them nest on the shingle roof of our local hospital, oblivious to all that was happening below them. They have nested there for over a decade, each year returning from Spittal Beach, following the Tweed to raise their young.

Back then we were still attending meetings, working out how to socially distance, precious masks reserved for clinicians and video conferencing in its infancy. As I walked across the car park to endless COVID preparation meetings I listened and watched them as they nested above our Intensive Care Unit.

As I was recovering from COVID I wrote this poem, not imagining that the oyster catchers’ annual return would mark a cadence to our year of lockdown.

Will they notice?

Each year they return.

Following Tweed to their elevated beach.

They breathe and pipe and dance above us.

But will they notice our world has changed?

Will they notice the short, shallow breaths of teams in frantic preparation?

Will they notice leaders’ long deep sighs as they bring a calm


Will they notice the rapid, fevered gasps of those in desperate search for air?

Or the increasing hiss of slow, rhythmic, mechanical lungs?

Their red eyes will watch us

In the brief weeks it takes their young to hatch.

When our breath will have changed,

Our world never again the same.

Erica Reid

Hope is…

The sticky residue that clings to the lip of Pandora’s jar,
            a drop of vaccine on the tip of a needle,
            a snowdrop spring.

The dig-down-deep dankness at the bottom of a well,
            a coin of courage found in the mud,
            a wish made.

The stout-hearted stubbornness of a heart declared Open,
            a hot water mash,
            one more brew.

Faye Sharpe & Mark Collins

The new normal manifesto

Harmony over division
Opportunity over privilege
People over greed
Environment over lifestyle 

Sana Iqbal


She’s not there, but she was.
I was left alone; not in her bubble.
Bubbles joined, wavered, separated, divided
But they are intended to protect, to be a comfort.

She’s not there, but I was.
Covid-19 is there. Where? All around.
Hand, face, space. Surface, handle, shelf.
And inside, small, but growing. Others.

She’s not there, but I am
Impatient but waiting patiently – pandemic rolls on
Resting and conserving; health will return
To one who waits with expectation. Maybe needed again.

She’s not there, but she was
A place with one; with one and two. The hope is there.
Hawks rise – maybe. It would be enough in its turn
For a future when we are there. Maybe to hope again.

She’s not there, but she was.

Robin Fortune – Hiseman

Time for reflection

Working on keeping optimistic

Engaging the brain with new challenges

New depths of resilience discovered

Taking time to stare

Yakking with friends on the telling-bone

Success with stories raising spirits

Inspired by acts of kindness

Xpecting new opportunities, ways of working

Willingness to accept there are things I can’t control

Exploring new projects with new people

Enjoying community and neighbourhood initiatives

Knowing now what I don’t want to do

So many stories to retell, revisit, reimagine… 

Irene Lofthouse


John Simmons

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