Reflections On Lockdown

It feels like things are changing now, so it’s been making me reflect on how lockdown has been and lessons that I want to take from it. I feel almost embarrassed to be saying this, but I’ve actually enjoyed lockdown. I mean, clearly not the death, worry and not being able to see friends and family. That part has sucked, but there’s definitely been a lot of good things to come out of this awful situation.

Now that things are starting to open up and get back to some sort of normality, is it just me that has decidedly mixed feelings about this? Clearly there are some things that I am desperate to get back to. Seeing family, parkrun, races, not needing to be constantly looking when you’re about and about to make sure nobody is within 2 metres of you. There are also lots of things that I really want to keep. As we come out of this really weird situation I really hope that we take the opportunity for some self-reflection and work out what’s really important to us and what has just been a distraction all along.

For me I’ve realised that I have a lot of the basics covered already. I’m pretty clear on my values and know what adds value to my life and what is a waste of my time, effort and money. My family unit is pretty strong. Despite sharing lockdown with two teenage boys we are closer than ever. There’s been very little conflict and we still enjoy spending time together. We’ve given each other plenty of space. We’re really lucky in having a good sized house and a nice garden. I’ve got four bedrooms, so even with using one as an office there’s still lots of room for us all to spread out. I do appreciate how fortunate I am. My sister shares a two bedroom flat with her twelve year old son. They are very cramped in there and there has inevitably been a few fallings out between the two of them.

What I really hope is that as things start to ease up things don’t just go back to how they were. I really see this as a chance for the earth to heal itself from all the damage that we’ve inflicted on it. If you’d said to us last year that planes wouldn’t be flying, the roads would be empty, shops would be closed and we would mostly all be working from home then we’d have thought that you were crazy. There’s no way that would ever happen. But happen it has.

The Country’s Finances

I talk to lots of people every day with my job. It seems to me that the world has pretty much split into furloughed and still working people. I’ve had to come off Facebook as I think if I read one more post about how bored someone was then I was going to scream. I realise it must be incredibly difficult if you’ve got nothing to do and you’re worried about the money side of things. It is however incredibly frustrating to keep hearing about how bored people are when you’re rushed off your feet working harder than ever to try and keep up with customer demand.

The health aspect is obviously awful, but the economic fallout is almost as bad. This pandemic has starkly demonstrated the fragility of people’s finances. People were phoning us almost immediately the crisis hit to say that they were struggling to pay their bills. They literally were one pay away from financial disaster. These are not just people earning minimum wage. Some of these people earn really good money. It doesn’t matter how good your salary is though if you spend all of it and more. If you have a pile of credit card debts built up over the years on all the essential things that you absolutely had to have, then when you get furloughed you’re going to have a problem.

What’s Going To Change?

Working towards FIRE is a real benefit when something awful like this pandemic hits. We’re already used to living on less than we’re earning, so if needs be we can look for other ways to adapt our finances. Clearly the financial buffer is a real asset, but perhaps even more so is the adaptable attitude. I’m really not great with change, but striving to reach FIRE has made me examine my finances more closely and look at different ways of doing things. Although I haven’t made any big changes as a result of CV19, I do feel that my frame of mind is slightly different than it was. Something truly shocking has happened to our world, which has resulted in wholesale change in the way we live our lives. Hopefully lots of these things will only be temporary deprivations, and we’ll gradually get to reintroduce some of the fun things that we’ve all been missing.

I honestly believe that things can’t just go back to how they were. I hope not anyway. For me there’s been a fundamental change in how I think about the world. It’s almost as though one of the worst things I could possibly have imagined has happened, and yet the world continues. Coming out of the other side how could we possibly go back to the hum drum worrying about trivial things. We will, of course we will. It’s only natural. I really want to try not to though. I’m not sure if it’s as a result of working from home, but I’m finding it much easier to focus on what’s really important to me. I’m not saying I’m not getting caught up in the day to day stresses of work, because there have certainly been plenty of those. I am however finding it slightly easier to remind myself that as long as my boys and I are healthy, happy and flourishing then there’s not really too much else to worry about.

Paying For Petrol For The First Time In Forever

I had to fill the car up the other day for the first time since lockdown. I’ve realised during this time how well set up I am to barely need a car at all. I’m definitely driving less than I was before. I’ve introduced a new personal rule that on any under 3 mile journeys I won’t use the car unless there’s some sort of a constraint such as taking the kids, heavy shopping or not having the time to go under my own steam. I walked to B&Q yesterday to pick up an order. It’s only a mile and a half from my house, and I definitely would have taken the car in the past. Instead I walked down, picked up my 5 litres of decking stain and set off with a fairly heavy rucksack for the walk home. Yes it was a bit uncomfortable walking home with that on my back, but I backpacked around Spain carrying all my camping equipment many years ago and survived that, so some decking stain definitely wasn’t going to break me. I still haven’t got into using the bike for errands, but I have bought a bike lock and started scoping out quiet routes into town. It might well be baby steps, but if it stops me having to replace my car for a while then that’ll all be to the good.

Holiday Time

I’m just coming towards the end of a week’s holiday. My teenagers are spending two weeks with their dad so I get to be just Sassenach Saving, and not Ms Mum as they call me. I had planned to spend this week studying Spanish, watching some more of the free Yale online lectures, running, walking, cycling, writing, reading etc etc. I would needed to have been off for about a month to get through everything I had planned. Instead things panned out quite differently. I was video chatting with my folks last Sunday and mentioned that I was off work for a week. They turned to each other and suggested that I create a bubble with them so I could come down to visit. They’d been reluctant to do this before as they were shielding due to their age. They were feeling a bit more confident as time passed and were now happy for me to visit.

I threw some things in the car, actually paid out for some petrol and had a beautiful sunny drive down the A68 to start my trip away. It was so lovely to catch up with them. I also managed to do some socially distanced socialising with my sister and nephew. I was only down there for a few days, but we managed to pack quite a few things in. Video chatting is great, but it’s no substitute for actually being able to see someone in person and make sure that they actually are doing ok. I felt much reassured after having spent some time with them.

My sister loves to walk so she found a lovely route for us to do on the beautifully named Red Kite Trail. Named as they released 94 red kites in the area. We didn’t manage to see any that day, but my sis repeating the route a few days later and was lucky enough to see one soaring above her. We did manage to see rabbits, deer and a particularly acrobatic squirrel leaping from a post to the branches of a tree, along with the usual farm animals. The whole thing was twelve and a half miles, including taking the scenic route along the river (it’s not getting lost if you get to enjoy beautiful scenery whilst enjoying a slight diversion).

Another day myself and the folks had a trip to the seaside. We drove the route of the Great North Run, as clearly that’s not going ahead this year and I’ve had to defer my place till next year. Right from the start on the central motorway, all the way along to the front at South Shields. I have to say it was much easier in the car, but even then it did seem quite a long way. I don’t very often get to drive the route of one of the half marathons that I’ve run, so it really brought home how it is a pretty big achievement to run one. I tend to think that a half is not that big a deal. You know what, it kind of is.

We spent a few hours in South Shields where the sun was very conveniently shining for us. Even so the place was reasonably quiet and it was easy enough to keep our distance from other people. We had fish and chips and I kept up my usual tradition of paddling in the sea, getting soaking and realising that I probably should have brought a towel with me. I really should learn the lesson that if I’m at the coast I’ll be going in the sea come what may. It was even pretty warm, which is not something you can usually say about the sea on that particular stretch of coastline.

So all in all it was a fantastic break away. I caught up with family, did some great walking and managed to get out and about whilst remaining safe. It did make me realise that although I’ve enjoyed staying home during lockdown I really need to make myself go out. I have hermit tendencies that can get out of hand if left unchecked. Sometimes you need to get out in the world and experience new things and places.

For me the biggest things to come out of lockdown are I want to keep working from home, driving less and focussing on reaching FIRE. I need to make sure that I also remember to make time for fun activities and catching up with family and friends. I love to learn and get exercise, but I also need to make sure that I actually see people. It’s absolutely fantastic that I can now run with my friends again. That is such a big part of my life, and things seemed slightly out of balance when I was having to run on my own. I think moving forward getting enough social interaction is going to be crucial to ensure that homeworking is sustainable for me, particularly as my boys grow up and fly the nest.

June 2020 Net Worth

It’s been a while since I’ve put my figures up, although I have continued to track them myself. I’m not quite sure why I’ve stopped posting them, as I always feel that it’s a way to keep myself accountable. I guess I feel that I’m already keeping a check myself, but it can be useful to share them to anybody who is out there and listening. Normally I would put last month’s figures in brackets for comparison. This month however I’ve put January’s figures in brackets just to show what’s happened since the start of the year. I break down my figures to both include and exclude my house equity. The latter figure is to show how I’m doing in my quest to reach mortgage neutrality.


Mortgage £98,281.81 (£80,767.87)


Cash £36,507.46 (£14,988.95)

Money in share save £0 (£15,304 )

AVC’s £5,567.13 (£5,175.36)

Shares £36,282.17 (£33,554.66)

House £250,000 (£250,000)

Total Assets £328,356.76 (£319,022.97)

Net Worth including house equity

£328,356.76 – £98,281.81 = £230,074.95 (£238,255.10)

Net Worth excluding house equity

£78,356.76 – £98,281.81 = -£19,925.05 (-£11,744.90)

There’s probably quite a few things to say about these figures. So first up the mortgage. Clearly from what’s showing above I have borrowed more money on the mortgage. There are a number of factors that came into play with regards to this. I have access to a base rate mortgage through work. Only having to pay 0.1% is a pretty compelling reason to borrow money against your house. It is a benefit in kind, so there are some tax implications, but still you know, it’s 0.1% This is a benefit that work are going to remove for any new borrowing this year. What you have at base rate you get to keep, but if you want to borrow extra, move house or don’t yet have a staff mortgage then tough luck, it won’t be available.

On that basis there was an argument to be made for borrowing extra even if it wasn’t needed and tucking it away in a cash ISA and being up on the deal. I am going to need access to extra money at some point. My boiler is not in a brilliant state. We have a few days every year where it doesn’t work, so we have no heating or hot water. Not ideal, but also not a disaster. Rather crucially though they can no longer get spare parts for it, so it’s no longer able to be repaired when it does hit a problem. So far it’s always spontaneously started working again, but I can’t bank on this forever. My en suite is also not useable due to a cracked shower tray and subsequent leaking through the kitchen ceiling last year. Add that to the fact that the loo in there has never really worked. At some point a total redoing of the en suite will be in order. And my car had been proving very expensive to repair, so I was thinking about replacing it. With lockdown and the consequent lack of driving I’m currently rethinking that, but we’ll see.

Anyway I figured that I would not spend all this extra money for as long as possible, but that I would borrow it and stick it away and earn some interest on it and be up on the deal. I’d done the application just before lockdown with the thought that I wouldn’t draw the funds down straight away. Once everything kicked off Coronavirus wise though I decided to get the money in my bank account ASAP in case they pulled extra borrowing. I was worrying unnecessarily, but it was certainly nice to have the extra cash in my account. So that explains the extra cash in my balance.

The next big thing is the share save money. A big fat zero in there. I had two share saves still on the go, but as the share price dropped like a stone and it became clear that it wasn’t going to get anywhere near the option price anytime soon I cashed them in and took the cash without any penalty. This worked out really well as it allowed me to put the money into index trackers. I finally have got myself a bit diversified. Not nearly enough, but I’ve made a really good start. I’m not doing any more share saves. It’s index trackers all the way for me now. I’ve gone from putting £500 a month into share saves to doing £600 month to Vanguard Index trackers. It’s been my plan all along to do this. I don’t know what took me so long, but at least I got there eventually.

Work do a share match where when I buy £30 shares each month they’ll give me £45 worth for free. If I keep them for five years it’s even tax and NI free. I’ll keep doing them, but other than that I’m done with work shares. I just need to offload the ones I have already. Due to the current share price and what I paid for them I can’t quite bring myself to do that just yet, but at some point I’m just going to have to accept that money is gone and it’s never coming back. The index trackers are doing really well, so I’ll be better off putting the money in there. I’ll start to do that gradually to make sure that I get everything in ISA’s.

I had a share save mature in January. I got totally stung on that. I was in the process of transferring the shares to my share dealing account ready to sell immediately and put into index trackers. It took two weeks to move them across and during that time I could see the price getting lower and lower, I went from having £1200 profit to being so much down on them that it barely seems worth selling them now. At some point they will need to go, but the pain is too recent to make it real by selling and realising the loss.

The values of my shares are up slightly from January, but considering that includes the matured share save where I was saving £500 a month for three years, that’s pretty rubbish. The least said about that the better. I’m not expecting the work share price to recover any time soon. There’s always something with it. First it was let’s just get past the PPI deadline then the price will be better, then it was Brexit (remember that?!) and now it’s Coronavirus and the subsequent economic fallout. I feel like it’s the end of an abusive relationship. I can’t believe I stayed with them so long, what was I thinking, my life is so much better without them in it etc etc etc. The final straw was when they announced that they wouldn’t be paying the dividend. I realise that wasn’t their decision, but I was furious as it was actually the final dividend from last year. We went so many years without one being paid at all, so to have it pulled now is doubly gutting. Maybe that means next year’s dividend will be extra good, but I don’t think I can count on that.

The AVC balance is not looking too healthy either. There seems to be a bit of a pattern emerging here! It’s up slightly, but considering I have quadrupled the amount I’m paying into my AVC’s that’s pretty piss poor. My thoughts on this one are to stop overpaying my mortgage so much and take advantage of the tax benefits of the pension. So I’ve borrowed an extra £20K on the mortgage, but reduced by monthly payment by £200. I was massively overpaying the mortgage, and I still am paying about £80 a month more than I need to. At such a low interest rate though it seemed silly to be bringing my mortgage down. I still would love to clear my mortgage, but for now my priority is to build up enough money in my AVC balance to get my £50k cash lump sum at retirement without needing to reduce the amount of my annual pension. I can then use that lump sum to hopefully more or less clear the mortgage. I’m slightly conflicted on this strategy as the mortgage feels like somewhat of a burden, but for now I’m happy to go with the maths.

So to summarise, I owe more on my mortgage, my work shares have tanked, my AVC balance is not great and my net worth is down. On the plus side though I have a lot more cash on reserve at a very low interest rate that gives me scope to do something useful with. I have finally diversified, even if there is still plenty of work to do on that front. I’ve made the decision to not overpay my mortgage as much but instead to put more into my AVC fund. The index trackers I’ve got are doing well and hopefully demonstrating that I’ve made a good decision with my finances. So I’m going to try and take the positives from what could be a very depressing update. Yes the figures are pants, but I’ve finally got my finger out and made some decisions about my money. Whether they are the right decisions remains to be seen, but as always taking action is a good thing. Action conquers fear as they say, so here’s hoping I’ve made some good choices and I’ll start to reap the rewards moving forward.

Lockdown Easing

It feels that we’re starting to shift towards a slightly different mentality when it comes to lockdown. Things are beginning to open up a little bit, but more than that, people’s thinking seems to be changing. It’s noticeable in the supermarket where you see people huddled together chatting rather than getting in and out as quickly as possible to avoid infection. Whether that’s right or not is a can of worms that I think I’ll leave well and truly alone. It seems a bit quick to me, but I can just follow my own rules and leave other people to behave as they see fit. I’ve absolutely no interest in becoming the lockdown police.

I’ve got the added complication that I live in Scotland but all my family are down in England. So I’ve had the joy of trying to decipher two lots of rules. For my day to day life it’s Nicola Sturgeon that I’ve been listening to. Whatever you think about her politics I think most people would agree that she’s handled this situation well. She’s been a voice of reason and not scared to say the unpopular things that keep us safe. She’s not been afraid to say that although Boris is saying it’s now about staying safe not staying home, I’m telling you to stay home. And if you haven’t yet seen the voice overs that Janey Godley does of her speeches then check them out, as they are brilliant.

I’ve been trying to keep up with things south of the border as well so that I can figure out what’s going on with my family, make sure they’re safe and crucially trying to figure out when I can get down to see them. I have to say I’ve found a lot of Boris’s advice pretty much incomprehensible. Safe to say I’m very glad I’m in Scotland and following Nicola. She’s come across as very statesman like through all this. Or should that be stateswoman like? Either way she’s been reassuring, confident and told it like it is.

We’re not out of lockdown yet, but we are starting to see some easing. We still can’t get haircuts yet, but that should be coming in soon. I’ve become a dab hand at cutting my fringe, but that’s about as much as I’ve dared. My kids are looking slightly like shaggy dogs, but they’re not bothered and I quite like their somewhat hippy looks. The most exciting thing for me is that we can now meet up with two other households outside. And of course we all know what that means. I get to run with friends again. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed that. I totally lost any motivation to run at the start of all this, but I’ve gradually got back into it. I’m totally unfit still, but at least I’m consistently running again. I’ve had two runs now with other people and it was just the nicest thing ever.

I’ve really been missing parkrun. That’s usually such an important part of my weekend. I’d done lots of touristing to various parkruns, but when it was clear that we were about to have the final parkrun for the foreseeable future then I headed back to my local park for the final Saturday and volunteered as a marshal to cheer everybody on. This gave me a chance to catch up with everyone and get more or less caught up on my volunteering debt before everything stopped. That was a perfect morning, made all the more poignant for knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing each other for some time.

This morning I was out for a run with a friend. We were doing a 10km route that used to be a race a few years ago, and was being put on as a virtual lockdown challenge by our running club. You do it whenever you want during the allocated week and post your results. I’ve been studiously ignoring these challenges as I didn’t want to be reminded how unfit I was. This one looked fun though, so the two of us plodded around and put the world to rights. It’s amazing how much I’d lost the ability to talk and run at the same time. Not if I wanted to be able to breathe too anyway. I used to be quite good at that, so that’s definitely a skill I need to relearn.

The route was three laps starting and finishing in the park where parkrun is normally held. We met at 9 and were chatting before we got started. Then we saw a runner we knew so had a lovely talk with him. As we were running through the park on each lap we kept seeing people we knew from parkrun and more general running circles. Then it twigged that it was the anniversary of that particular parkrun, so lots of people were doing a pretend parkrun to celebrate. At the end we were talking to loads of runners we knew. It was at that point I realised just how much I’d missed the social aspect of running. Going out for a run is a lot of fun, but add friends into the mix and it becomes this amazing experience.

I really can’t wait for parkrun to get going again, but I fear that’s a long way off. Parkrun HQ have said the a whole country needs to be in a position to put on the event for any to be able to start. We’re classed as part of the UK, so although we might be able to cope locally with the numbers involved, some of the bigger ones down south would be swamped and unable to do any kind of social distancing. Bushy, where it all started routinely gets massive numbers, so there’s no way it would be feasible for them. I’m doubtful that we’ll be back this year, but I’d be delighted to be proved wrong.

At the start, like everyone,I was feeling pretty stressed about the pandemic. I was still going into the office, in a cubicle crammed in with people everywhere. I work in a call centre environment, which is hardly ideal for social distancing. They were paying lip service to keeping people apart. We had a one way system in place in the office, which was ridiculous and did absolutely no good. Teams were having meetings in the stairwells to say they were socially distancing, but all that meant was you had to walk past them to get to your part of the office.

Eventually they realised that there wasn’t enough space to have everyone in at the same time, so I came back after lunch one Monday to be told to go home for the rest of the week so that everyone could be spaced out in the office. That lasted until the Wednesday when they realised that they needed everyone working, so just come back the next day and it would be fine. Then we had a confirmed case in the building so were closed for two days for a deep clean. I had a few day’s holiday after that and I was dreading going back into the building.

There are fifty five of us working in my particular area. We are crammed into cubicles with a walkway between the middle of our part. There was no way to be two metres apart. They were claiming it was fine and that we could still use the walkway without there being any problems. How ridiculous this assertion was has now been demonstrated by the fact that they have now decided that out of the fifty five of us that work in that part, we can safely accommodate six of us in the office.

When I was due to go back on the Monday I decided that I wasn’t prepared to work there any more. They were trying to get laptops for everybody so that we could work from home, but it was taking some time to organise. I sat down with my good old spreadsheets and worked out how long I could live on my stash if I had to. I’d recently done some extra borrowing on my mortgage as I knew at some point I was going to need to replace my car and the boiler. I’ve also not been able to use my en suite since it leaked through the kitchen ceiling last year, so at some point I’ll want to get that sorted. I decided to borrow an extra £20k on my mortgage.

I’m very fortunate to have a base rate mortgage through work, so at 0.1% I’m not too worried about increasing my borrowing. I’ve just stuck it in a cash ISA for the meantime and it’s making me more than it’s costing me. As they’re due to withdraw the staff mortgage for any new borrowing at some point this year I figured it would be good to take advantage of that whilst it’s still available. I’m actually wondering if I shouldn’t maybe take some more and just tuck it away. It goes against the grain for me as I have spent a long time overpaying my mortgage and love to see it coming down, but the numbers don’t lie. Since I’ve done the extra borrowing I’ve reduced the amount that I’m overpaying and put that extra money into index trackers again. I would love to be mortgage free, but for now I think it’s probably more important to build my investments.

So my cash figure is almost certainly higher than it should be at the moment. As I’m barely using my car just now it will hopefully not need replacing quite so quickly. I’m going to wait till the boiler completely gives up the ghost. The last time it got serviced the said that they can’t get parts for it any more, and a couple of times a year it stops working for a couple of days and we have no heating or hot water. Cold showers are far from ideal, but most of the time it works, so I’ll just hang fire until there’s no option but to replace it. The en suite I’m hoping I can mostly pay for out of the cash that’s built up in my current account, but I’m in no rush to get that done either.

So the bottom line is that I have a good amount of cash if I needed it to live off. When I worked my figures out on the Sunday night when I was due to go back in to the office the next day I reckoned that on a bare bones survival budget I could probably last for about three years. Clearly that’s a sign that I have too much cash, but it definitely worked in my favour. I wasn’t going to quit the next day, but having that money gave me the confidence to say I’m happy to work from home if you have a laptop for me, but otherwise I’m away home and let me know when my laptop’s here. I’m not sure how comfortable I would have felt saying that if I didn’t have a back up plan of cash in the bank. So even without being financially independent working towards FIRE gave me options that I might not otherwise have had.

When I went in on the Monday though there was a laptop for me, so I was able to head straight home and get set up in the spare room. It took a while to get all the technology working, but it’s gone pretty well. I was initially a little sceptical about how I would find working from home. We already had some people home working before all this kicked off. They had to come in to the office one day a week at least, but the rest of the time they worked at home. I had thought about it when it was offered and I was very tempted. I thought it would be a really good opportunity to see how I found being at home and not having the interaction at the office. This is something I worry about a little bit for that mythical point in the future when I reach FIRE and can quit the rat race. As I don’t have a partner and just have two teenage boys for company in the house I worried that I might find it quite isolating.

Turns out I didn’t need to worry. I love working from home. Admittedly it’s only been a few months, but I’m pretty sure I’d be fine doing this long term. I’m just doing my normal job, taking calls through the laptop, speaking to customers and keying applications for them. I was concerned that I’d find it hard to switch off without having the separation of home and office. Of course I sometimes think about work when I’m off, but then that was the same when I was working from the office too. I love being able to pop down on my break and put the washing out or just sit in the garden. We’ve been very lucky with the weather, but it hasn’t been sunny the whole time and I’ve still loved being at home.

I thought I would miss my colleagues, but no, not so much. I’d like to say there’s no office politics now, but that would be pushing it a bit. We’re operating business as usual. We’re incredibly busy, so there’s a lot of pressure to get on and take calls. Balancing that with dealing with cases for customers you’ve already dealt with is always tricky. So that’s no different. My boss is still on my back about my stats, but it’s a lot easier to deal with that when I’m in my lovely spare room rather than in a soulless cubicle. I’m enjoying the video meetings with my team, but I’m finding that twenty minutes a day is enough contact with my colleagues.

I’m definitely more focussed on my customers. I feel like I’m having better conversations with them because I’m not in such a distracting environment. It feels like I’m doing a better job and my confidence in my abilities has definitely grown. The job I do has a lot of grey areas. We’ve policies we have to follow, but because I’m advising people on their finances there aren’t always definite answers. I used to rely a lot more on discussing cases with colleagues. Now I tend to just read the policy, follow my gut and stick to my guns. So homeworking is a big tick in the box. I enjoy it, I’m managing without the office gossip and I feel like I’m developing new skills.

Like everyone else I’m now finding that I’m getting about three weeks to the gallon with my car. I’ve actually not had to fill up once since lockdown, which is amazing. I didn’t feel like I did an awful lot of driving before, and only used to have to fill up about once a month. These last few months have really made me start to think about my car usage. I had already been trying not to use the car so much for short journeys. As I only work about three miles from home I really shouldn’t be using by car for commuting, but I was. My current thinking is that even once everything starts to ease I’ll just keep home working. Even if I have to go to the office once a week eventually, then that will still cut down my car use considerably. I have even been thinking about cycling to work. It’s definitely doable.

My old bike has been on it’s last legs for a long time now. The tyres and brakes were completely shot and it was a heavy old beast at the best of times. I’d got rid of it just before lockdown hit and the plan was always to get a new one. The start of lockdown seemed as good a time as any to do this, so I got myself a new bike delivered. Just under £200 got me a decent hybrid bike, suitable for road and a bit of off roading too. I was very excited about this and the first day it arrived I got myself out after work to the cycle path that’s only half a mile from my house. It was a lot of fun and over the next few weeks I managed to build up to about an hour’s riding without feeling like I was going to die.

I’m ashamed to admit though that I’ve only been out on it a grand total of five times. I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve gone out, but I just don’t seem to have got in the habit of getting myself out there. It’s partly because I’m really enjoying my running again, and I never feel the need to exercise more than once a day. I’ve realised that rather than going out on the bike for exercise, I would rather that it was a means of transport to avoid me going in the car. I haven’t actually done anything about this, but I have started thinking about ways to get places I would want to go on the bike without needing to be on main roads. Where I live I’m really central for getting to the local town, so there’s no excuse for me using my car all that much. Definitely something for me to ponder a bit more and think about implementing some changes to the way I get about.

It will be interesting to see what changes come about once we do come out of lockdown fully. No doubt some things will go back to normal, but hopefully some of the more beneficial changes will be here to stay. I need to gather my thoughts on that and see what changes I want to bring about in my life from what I’ve learned from lockdown. Once I’ve come to some conclusions I’ll no doubt share my thoughts.