Forever Amber: UK lifestyle blogger

Looking Back on the Strange Summer of 2020

OK, I know everyone on the Internet is basically just waiting for September to end, so they can post that Anne of Green Gables quote about being glad to live in a word where there are Octobers, but there’s no amount of ‘cosy’ blankets or pumpkin spiced latte that could make the prospect of a Covid autumn seem any more appealing to me right now, so this post is just a blatant excuse to cling onto the last dregs of summer, really, by posting some photos of our trip to Burntisland Beach last month:

Burntisland Beach, Fife

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Amber and Max on Burntisland BEach, Auguest 2020

Civid-19 warning at the beach

(Er, in case you’re wondering, Burntisland is neither burnt, nor is it an island. Just thought I better point that out for the benefit of anyone who is as literal as I was as a child: I spent years wondering why on earth my friends’ families kept taking them to an actual BURNT island for days out, because, I mean, worst day trip ever, right?)

(I also once had a full-on tantrum at the dentist’s when he told my mum he thought it would be best to just “put me to sleep” for a certain procedure. He meant they’d give me gas or something, but I thought they were literally going to euthanize me, and… well. Let’s just say the therapist I saw a couple of years ago had a LOT of fun unpacking that one…)

Anyway, I was saying: we went to Burntisland ‘Not-an-Actual-Island’ Beach one sunny day last month, and, as you can see from the photos, it was a completely normal family day out (I’m just going to skim over the bit where Max went around telling other children the playpark was “haunted” here…) … other than the posters on the walls reminding us to stay away from other people, because they could, well, kill us.*

(*Not necessarily true, but just let me have my moment of drama here, OK?)

And that’s pretty much been the story of our summer, really. On the surface, it’s all been reassuringly normal. We’ve had plenty of days out. We’ve seen friends and family. Hell, in the last week or so we’ve even started making the odd excursion into ACTUAL SHOPS again – albeit fully masked up, and then I lie awake at night wondering if Max REALLY needed those new shoes, or are we just reckless idiots who’ve risked everything for a trip to NEXT?

(Don’t answer that, please.)

So, yes, it’s been almost normal: in fact, as I said in this post, if you were going by my Instagram feed alone right now, I don’t think you’d guess there was still a pandemic going on around us, would you?

But then, lurking amongst the sunny photos and the smiling faces, there are those signs dotted around, reminding us that, actually, things aren’t normal. Not at all.

ice cream at the seaside

When we go into shops, we wear face masks, and then scrub our hands with sanitiser as soon as we leave. We follow one-way systems and stand on dots on the floor, waiting to pay at a safe distance. When we visit people, we still try to stay outside as much as possible, but when it’s too cold or wet for outdoor chats, we go in, but keep our distance, and try not to touch anything. My hands are still sore and dry from all of the extra handwashing, and when we’re getting ready to leave the house now we have to remember to put face masks and hand gel in the changing bag, along with all of the drinks and snacks and other toddler-related paraphanelia.

It’s weird, sure … but, it’s not hugely inconvenient, really. We’re fortunate in that we’re both able to wear facemasks without any issues, and, if I’m totally honest, I think social distancing in shops, and other crowded places, should be a thing FOREVER. I mean, be honest: it’s quite refreshing to be able to stand in line at the checkout without someone breathing down your neck, isn’t it? Because I certainly think so.

As nice as it’s been, though, to have a little bit of a break from the soul-crushing reality of this year, I’m all too aware that the holiday will soon be over: and by “the holiday” I mean “summer”.

The fact is, most of the things we’ve been doing lately – i.e. the reason the last few weeks have felt almost normal – are things that have been dependant on the weather being dry, if not particularly warm. As we edge into autumn, and then winter, though, that’s highly likely to change, and, as well as the cold, wet weather that we normally get at this time of year, we’ll also be dealing with the very short daylight hours that winter brings.

With Covid-19 cases on the rise again across Scotland and the rest of the UK (As I write this, Glasgow has just gone back into semi-lockdown for two weeks, which means we’ve narrowly missed being pretty much confined to the house again…), we’re becoming gradually less comfortable with the idea of meeting people indoors, or going to shops, again – which makes me worry that even if there isn’t another official lockdown, winter is going to feel like one anyway: which is a pretty daunting thought for someone who hates the colder seasons even at the very best of times.

Amber on the beach at Burtisland, Fife

So I’m a little bit scared. And, to be fair, the thought of the coming autumn and winter terrifies me anyway: it always has. My state of mind has always been ridiculously dependent on the weather – to an extent that I suspect probably isn’t quite “normal”, really. It’s quite simple, though:

Grey skies and rainy days make me sad.

Sunshine makes me happy.

Autumn and winter make me feel like my soul is being crushed between two giant boulders of misery, while random passers-by smile and tell me how “cosy” I look.

And that’s me on a GOOD year.

This, however, is very much NOT a good year: and while I really hope my fears are unfounded, and that summer will just roll into autumn without too many changes to our current way of life, well, let’s just say I’m not banking on it – and I’m even sadder than I usually am to find myself back in September again.

How’s your summer been?

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  • Nicola


    I’m with you on retaining social distancing in public long-term; I was saying to my husband when we were out for a walk recently that I love how now when we cross the street when we see other people we’re being courteous, not anti-social weirdos (which, I mean, we *are*, but now we just look like we’re not jerks).

    I think a lot of people are going to be struggling with this strange semi-lockdown we’re in over the next several months, especially as Christmas approaches. My family of 7 gathered together for my mum’s birthday last month, staying outside and keeping space between our social bubbles, but it won’t be possible to have lunch on the porch in December. In the best case scenario, where cases stay the same as they have been here (between around 70 and 140 per day, for a population of 14.5 million) or drop further, there will be some small family celebrations, where everyone avoids kissing Granny or getting too close but a couple of households can get together for Christmas dinner. If cases shoot up when schools go back next week, though, then it’ll be Christmas dinner over Zoom.

    September 4, 2020
  • Brenda


    Your thoughts pretty much mirror my own here. Summer is slowly ending, making way to fall where in our country is sometimes missed altogether. We have been known to get snow in September here. Even when that doesn’t happen, we are guaranteed a winter that lasts a good 6 months (or should I say a bad 6 months?). I have always found winter to be long, this year it will feel even longer. I am not looking forward to it at all.

    That being said, I too am enjoying the social distancing a little bit too. The only thing I wonder is how it will be dealt with during those cold months. It will be hard to wait outside a store until there’s room to go in. And the things that usually help make the winter go faster — hockey, the symphony, concerts — aren’t going to happen. Ugh. There are a lot of shows that I want to watch on TV, so maybe this will be the winter of guiltless TV watching.

    September 4, 2020