Tag: lockdown

Bereavement in the new normal: life after Covid for Saga Magazine

There is no new normal post Covid.

Every one of us is, after all, grieving to some degree.

That’s the idea behind my first feature for Saga Magazine, an article I have been working on this past week.

My article explores, through case studies and expert comment, the loss we have all experienced during the pandemic and how we, both collectively and individually, can hope to move forward.

Psychologists talk about the five stages of grief, namely denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

But for one of my case study interviewees, Kerry, whose husband died last November, the whole experience has been an emotional rollercoaster, not a linear route.

“Sometimes at night, sleeping on his side in an empty bed, I call out to him. ‘Jeremy, where are you? Where are you?’ When there’s no response, I feel so alone.”

Kerry started keeping a diary as a means to express her grief, a key element of finding a path through the darkness.

“I started writing a journal to record the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve been through. It’s my substitute for counselling,” she says.

Amongst the expert interviewees for the feature is Julia Samuel, the pyschotherapist and author whose book Grief Works I read and admired. She told me:

“The only thing we can be certain of in life is change. We have to grow with the change. When we try to suppress it, we do not thrive.”

Julia explained how, for every death, at least eight people are affected, often many more.

With the UK death total from the pandemic currently nudging 140,000, a lot of people have been touched by tragedy in the past year.

How do they – we – all find a new normal?

“When grieving, it’s like having less layers of skin, so you feel raw,” said Julia. “My advice is to intentionally do things to soothe yourself.”

Read the full feature in the June issue of Saga Magazine — subscribe here.

I’m available for civil celebrant ceremonies in the Northwest region.

Liked this? Read also: Why 1,546 is more than a number – it’s a true national tragedy.

Walking Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail as it marks its 50-year anniversary

This year marks 50 years of the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail.

There are local walking festivals to look out for and a revamped visitor centre in the Welsh border town of Knighton to open later this summer.

An ITV series about the Path, Wonders of the Border, will be shown over summer.

The 177-mile national trail, which runs from near Chepstow on the River Severn to Prestatyn on the North Wales coast, divides into 12 day sections.

As lockdown restrictions eased, I walked the trail for a day from Castle Mill [pictured above] near Chirk Castle in North Wales into the Shropshire Hills to get a taste of the path.

The earliest reference to Offa’s Dyke is attributed to Asser, King Alfred’s biographer, who wrote:

“A certain vigorous king called Offa … had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia.”

Offa was the king of Mercia (the modern-day Midlands) and ordered the construction of the dyke around 785AD to mark a de-facto border between England and the rebellious Welsh tribes to the west.

National Trail Officer Rob Dingle says: “King Offa is something of a shadowy figure from history, but we do know that he was keen to expand his kingdom, and the design of the Dyke was quite deliberate, acting as a warning shot to the west.”

National Trails is encouraging walkers to share their memories of 50 years of Offa’s Dyke. Read more.

Read my feature via the i newspaper here

  • Liked this? Sign up to my new monthly newsletter, Hit the North, for more travel news around Northwest England and North Wales.

A post-lockdown visit to the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire

Here’s a new concept: the post-lockdown day out.

With restrictions easing, but overnights stays still off limits until April 12, I made a day trip to the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA), the year-round centre for remembrance in Staffordshire.

As an outdoor attraction, the Arboretum has managed to remain open throughout lockdowns and, with the Rule of Six back in force from yesterday, it’s a good place for socially distanced small gathering.

Many of the memorials, such as the Shot at Dawn memorial [pictured above], are thought-provoking and rich with symbolism.

More importantly, it offers a tranquil place for reflection set in nature to digest the events of the past year that have changed our lives beyond measure.

That could be why the Arboretum has been mooted as a potential site for a new national, government-led memorial to recognise all those who have served their community during Covid-19 pandemic, including NHS keyworkers.

The Arboretum celebrates its 20th anniversary on May 16 and I have a feature coming soon in the i newspaper.

It’s like Chris Ansell, the Arboretum’s Head of Participation and Learning, told me this week:

“We have a responsibility to those who have given their lives for their country but also a responsibility to ourselves to take time and reflect in order to look forward with hope.”

More about the NMA here

Read the feature now published in the i Newspaper.

 

Download my new Haunted Chester audio tour — now available via VoiceMap

My lockdown project is complete.

I used quieter time over the last few months to tinker away at a creative project, creating a new audio tour to my home city of Chester.

The result is Haunted Chester, a 60-minute circular walking trail based on the tours I lead for Chester Ghost Tours.

Those tours have been in hibernation during lockdown, returning hopefully in May.

But, meanwhile, you can download this self-guided tour to your smartphone and explore with just my voice and a detailed map to accompany you.

It’s the ultimate in social distancing.

VoiceMap uses local writers and guides to create quirky walking tours that offer local-knowledge insights and insider tips.

Here’s what my new tour promises:

If you like ghostly goings-on and spooky stories, then this walking tour around the centre of the historic city of Chester offers tantalising tales of the supernatural.

We’ll visit some familiar landmarks — but don’t expect a dry history lecture.

I know my home city well and will be highlighting some of the hidden corners that you don’t find on typical tours. After all, I’m a local boy and I’ll be sharing my insider knowledge.

On this tour, you’ll hear about:

• Roman soldiers still guarding their historic garrison
• The grisly tale of Chester’s last public execution
• The ghostly monk that haunts the city’s spookiest passageway
• Chester’s only official exorcism

Allow one hour for this walk. There are plenty of cafes and bars along the route for a quick coffee stop.

Whether it’s your first time in the city, or you’re a local keen to learn more about your home, Haunted Chester is the perfect way to see it in a different light.


Download the VoiceMap app to your phone and search for Haunted Chester, or use this link:

https://voicemap.me/tour/chester/haunted-chester-a-spooky-stroll-around-the-roman-walled-city

  • Liked this? Sign up to my new monthly newsletter, Hit the North, for more travel news around Northwest England and North Wales.