Connecting with Family & Friends
Notes from a Trail Writer
On 23rd March 2020, Boris said “You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say ‘No’. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.”
Wow! Whilst this announcement didn’t take us by surprise, it was still a big thing to get our heads around. No family visits, no meeting friends for coffee, no days out, and engagement parties, birthday bashes and wedding plans were all out of the window.
It took a few days to sink in, but then something wonderful happened. We all embraced existing technologies to stay connected and found new ways to celebrate instead!
Family group chats
The first thing that happened for me was that our family group chats on Messenger, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts suddenly got a whole lot busier. So much so that I had to mute notifications on my phone to keep them from annoying the neighbours! But that constant ‘ping’ of a new message really helped us all feel that we were by no means alone, even if we couldn’t go and hug each other and spend time together in person.
Not only did we message more, our chats became infinitely more weird and wonderful! We made up silly poems, shared old family photographs and, with cousins across the pond, celebrated Canada Day by donning our t-shirts and waving our flags in support!
I also got to know my extended family a lot more through shared photos. I learned that my cousin’s husband is particularly good at taking selfies with his face missing (see above). I got to see the PPE my Canadian cousin now wears to work, something we would never had bothered sharing before. I got to experience the wonders of my Dad and stepmum’s daily walks and see others enjoying Joe Wicks, whether in serious workout gear or weekly Friday PE with Joe in fancy dress.
There were some hiccups of course – the morning my uncle accidently started a video call whilst in the bathroom is perhaps best forgotten, although it was lovely to chat with everyone before settling down in the home office to work!
And then there was Zoom. It started with the odd meeting for work, and then it was all the rage! If you can’t leave your home to meet people, bring the people ‘virtually’ into your home!
One of our regular Treasure Trailers, Rosie, told us:
“I’ve enjoyed getting creative learning how to use new technologies and then passing the information on to other people, so now some of my flower club and WI use zoom not only for committee meetings and socialising with members but also to keep in better touch with their families.”
My own friends and family have also embraced online gatherings, with quizzes, coffee mornings, discos…my cousin-once-removed even held her hen party online:
And, having resisted for a while, I finally embraced video chat filters on a call with my sister, and discovered that I quite like the big hat and big sunglasses look! Time to head back to the shops…!
Talking of big celebrations, we’ve missed out on so much this year. A niece’s engagement party – postponed. A sister-in-law’s 40th birthday holiday plans – postponed. Our annual family gathering at a music festival – postponed. My cousin-once-removed’s wedding – you guessed it! Postponed. Here’s how her and her fiancé delivered the news:
The good news is, we haven’t let it get us down. We all made the most of it and new ways of celebrating were forged. From neighbours singing happy birthday on the streets, to birthday shoutouts online.
Remember the family from earlier who dressed up every Friday in fancy dress to do their Joe Wicks workout? Well my cousin Paula got a shoutout from Joe Wicks for her birthday! – “I loved it. It made me cheer and cry at the same time.” It’s just here if you don’t believe me:
In other birthday news, my niece turned 9 and of course, couldn’t have a proper party. Instead, she was taken on a local neighbourhood drive so that her friends could all wave, leave presents outside and shout Happy Birthday messages to her from a suitable social distance.
My Aunt’s 80th birthday in Canada coincided with Global Running Day, so we all did a run in honour of her and in support of Mental Health, a cause close to her heart, and shared our ‘stats’:
Here at TT Towers, our very own Aaron turned 40 when the message was very much ‘stay at home’. But just like my cousin-once-removed, he didn’t let a little thing like lockdown dampen his day. Ok, so it wasn’t quite what he had planned, and the camper van didn’t actually leave the drive, but it’s certainly a birthday he’ll never forget! Happy belated birthday Aaron!
As for that postponed wedding – just like many other ‘not so soon to be’ happy couples around the world, they are doing something extra special on their ‘would have been’ wedding day instead.
Puzzle time: Help get TT Towers reconnected!
The comms at TT Towers have been hacked and we’ve been locked out of our phone systems! We think it’s a secret spy ring wanting to prevent people from getting Trails! Solve our Get Connected puzzle to reveal the password and help us get back in touch with all our brave adventurers!
#GetConnected“ COMPETITION NOW CLOSED!
Thanks for all your entries! And Congratulations to Nicola Haynes who was chosen at random to receive a Treasure Trails gift voucher!
Entry Form for #GetConnected:
As well as forging new ways to connect with existing friends and family, many of us have found different ways to meet new people too. Thanks to the weekly Clap for Carers, and more people being around during the day, I’ve got to know more of my neighbours by name. Rachel at TT Towers met her neighbour of 18 months for the very first time! And for those seeking new relationships, one of our regular Treasure Trailers recommended Trails to a friend who completed a Trail on a ‘Covid-Date’!
As well as new ways of connecting with the outside world, one final Little Lockdown Lesson we’ve learned is how to appreciate and connect with the people we live with. Lockdown led to many of us spending a lot more time with our immediate families. Remembering all those magical moments at home will certainly have us making more time for family.
And when restrictions eased enough to allow us to spend more time outdoors with our household groups, we had some lovely feedback from many of you saying how much you enjoyed getting out on your local Treasure Trail. Having taken the Trails off sale for nearly two months, it was a real boost to us here at TT Towers to hear of families connecting over those sneaky Clues once more.
“Hello, we took our two children aged 9 and 12 with us yesterday for a walk around our town. Honestly it was brilliant! We all loved it. I can’t believe I’d never heard of this before! So many people have questioned it as no one knew anything thing about it and its literally right on my doorstep! Can’t wait to do another one! 👍”– Gemma, Reepham Trail
““Thank you for taking us on a walk around our town which made us stop and spot things we miss every day! The girls loved following the trail and it was a different way to break up lockdown!”– Nicky, Berkhamsted Trail
Four months on from the start of lockdown, despite restrictions having been lifted, I have to say, I’m spending more time chatting with friends and family than ever! I’ve spoken to friends who I haven’t seen in years, and family who I would usually only exchange birthday and Christmas cards with. I feel closer to them and appreciate them so much more! I only hope that this huge positive will carry on whatever the future may hold.
Share your story
We’d love to see or hear how you kept in touch with friends and family, or celebrated special occasions during lockdown, so please head over to our Facebook and Instagram pages and tag us @TreasureTrailsUK to show us what you’ve been up to!
The Team @ TT Towers
Aaron Hutchens 27th July 2020
Posted In: Ideas