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Kerri McLean

Now, we just long for the simple things in life like a trip to the shops or hairdresser

Kerry McLean


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Hello campers:  Ruth Madoc played Gladys Pugh in Hi-de-Hi

Hello campers: Ruth Madoc played Gladys Pugh in Hi-de-Hi

Hello campers: Ruth Madoc played Gladys Pugh in Hi-de-Hi

We've had a running conversation going on in our house over the last few weeks, and I bet it's one that has come up a time or two in your home too.

It begins when one person pipes up with, "When this is all over, the first thing I'm going to do is…". In the first few weeks the thing that followed was quite a grandiose aspiration, with suggestions ranging from learning to dive to rock climbing and trying a parachute jump.

But I've noticed a big change this last week. When we launch into another round of what we'll get up to once the lockdown has been lifted, the answers are much more simple.

My husband, music obsessive that he is, wants to walk into a record shop and just browse. My eldest daughter wants to go and have her hair washed and cut at the hairdresser. My son wants to get to the beach, - the White Rocks in Portrush, to be exact, where there are massive sand dunes the height of a house.

Before all this started, it was normal for us to make the 10-minute journey there three or four times a week, usually just before bedtime, and he and our dog would race each other up and down the mountainous mounds of sand. I've always believed that boys and dogs should be exercised the same way - often and rigorously - to burn off all that excess energy and ensure a good night's sleep for all.

When we asked the youngest, our four-year-old daughter, where in all the world she would like to visit when we can make our escape from home, she closed her eyes and wistfully answered: "The Supermarket". This from a child who moans from the moment we park up outside our local store and go to get the trolley! I have to put calming breathing techniques into action when I take her with me, just to avoid exploding when I'm asked, "Why are you taking so long?" and "When can we go?" for the millionth time.

And yet this is the one place in a worldwide smorgasbord of options that she'd single out to visit?

Then it hit me. What she is really after is normality. She doesn't want to escape to another country or go on an adventure, she just wants life to return to the way it was, and who could argue with that?

It's the little moments that we all miss. For me, it's the hug and kiss I get from my mum when I arrive at her door and when I leave, even if it's the fourth time I've called that day.

I'm extremely thankful that she and my granny went into self-isolation weeks ago, before any cases were even confirmed in Northern Ireland, so I know they're safe.

I'm also extremely grateful that she just lives around the corner from me, so that on our daily walk we can wave in the window and see her, but I don't half miss those hugs.

To distract the kids and ourselves from what we miss about our normal lives, I've tried to inject a bit of fun into our new way of living and have morphed into a much less glamorous version of Gladys Pugh, the softly spoken chief entertainment officer from Hi-de-Hi's fictional holiday camp, Maplins. Instead of a PA system, I have taken to sending text messages to my two teens, not only to inform them about the day's activities but also to insist on temporary evictions from their bedrooms. Left to their own devices, I'm not sure they would come out at all, apart from the odd visit to the kitchen for pancakes and biscuits.

I've discovered that threatening to remove their phones doesn't hold much fear for them, but threatening to phone their friends for a chat has them scarpering down the stairs in seconds. When they finally emerge, we have breakfast, everyone is forced into the garden for an hour or so and then it's a card game after lunch, a quick game of bingo before dinner and a quiz with the extended family all calling in on some form of social media just before bedtime.

All we're missing for the full holiday camp experience is the knobbly knees competition. Hi-de-Hi, campers!

Belfast Telegraph