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Why I love lockdown: Novelist Olivia Rana on eating healthier, having more time with family and creating the best ever rhubarb gin

While most people have been calling for an end to restrictions, the Belfast author says her daily life has changed for the better and she fears this could be lost in the return to normality

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Olivia Rana with her latest novel, Black Beach

Olivia Rana with her latest novel, Black Beach

Family: Olivia with kids Lucia and Marcus

Family: Olivia with kids Lucia and Marcus

Keeping busy: Olivia has been making rhubarb gin, as well as baking and knitting

Keeping busy: Olivia has been making rhubarb gin, as well as baking and knitting

Keeping busy: Olivia has been making rhubarb gin, as well as baking and knitting

Keeping busy: Olivia has been making rhubarb gin, as well as baking and knitting

Keeping busy: Olivia has been making rhubarb gin, as well as baking and knitting

Keeping busy: Olivia has been making rhubarb gin, as well as baking and knitting

Olivia Rana with her latest novel, Black Beach

At the beginning of 2020 none of us could ever have contemplated being confined to our homes because of a pandemic. As the virus made its way from China and across Europe, as businesses and schools closed their doors and international travel came to a standstill, we looked on in horror, beginning to grasp some sense of how our lives were going to be impacted. This deadly disease was going to change our daily reality beyond recognition, and we assumed the worst. It closed us off from our families, it took loved ones too soon, and it threw us into economic turmoil. We were stopped in our tracks.

But as lockdown begins to ease, and we see shops reopening and increased traffic on the roads, I can't help but feel a little downcast. I'm aware that we are perhaps all slipping back into our old life and old routines, where much will be the same as before. Of course I'm delighted to think that I will soon be able to have friends over and to visit my family in Fermanagh, and I won't be sorry to see the end of the horrendous suffering for those families impacted by Covid-19, but during lockdown my life has changed in many ways for the better and I'm worried that this will be lost.

I thought about what has actually changed for me, what a typical day looks like in my new world. This morning I took a Pilates class through Zoom. I've always practised Pilates, but many mornings I've found an excuse not to drag myself out to the class: it's raining, I'm too tired, I haven't got time. Now I practise several times a week because I have time, and because its much more accessible. I feel stronger for it.