I can’t wait to get back to volunteering

I am usually a fairly solitary creature - my husband was working away from home during the week and my daughter is grown up and living in London so my trips out to Leuchie twice a week to volunteer and see both guests and staff was very important to me.

However, come the end of March I found my territory invaded 24/7 - daughter came home before lockdown with boyfriend, and husband returned with suspected CV19 (courtesy of being on the same flight as people repatriated from the Australian cruise ship).

So our first 2 weeks were in quarantine, which was fine - once our guardian angel had done a food shop for us! The dogs were in heaven with so much company, cuddles and walks (we are fortunate to live besides fields with wide margins) but with 3 people working from home, the rural broadband was challenging to say the least. Fortunately the only volunteering I have been able to do for Leuchie was phone based so I didn’t interfere with their bandwidth. It was great to be able to help out in this way. Leuchie took advantage of this 'quiet' time and undertook a survey to ask guests and carers what was important to them about Leuchie so we can continually improve our service. It was lovely to talk to the guests, many of whom have felt more isolated than normal.

I managed to persuade daughter that a lockdown puppy was a bad idea, but relented to lockdown chickens and duly received 3 divine 4 day old chicks for my birthday. They proved to be a marvellous distraction but sadly the littlest and prettiest, Daisy (yes, we watched Normal People) was taken by something at 5 weeks old - possibly a stoat? I evicted the dogs from their kennel and fortified the run and the other 2 have survived - only to have developed combs and now crowing rather loudly - so I seem to be the owner of 2 cockerels and the worst neighbour possible. Any takers?

There’s a whole other story about the pretty chick that Arabella was given for her birthday, as sadly the cockerels have not taken to her at all and there is much fun and games keeping them separate. Not to mention the spaniels.

I’m fortunate that both my parents are alive, albeit in their late 80s and classified as vulnerable so they were shielding until August 1st. Neither of them are particularly tech savvy so much of my time in the first few months seemed to be spent trying to get them supermarket priority slots and then doing their online shop - now Mum does it all herself but fortunately our daily post lunchtime phone call remains. It was a huge relief for shielding to be lifted and finally to have them to stay with us and to give them some of the tlc that Leuchie guests will recognise from their visits - home cooked food, waiting on them hand and foot, plenty of chat, but no live entertainment here sadly!

They have returned home now. And I long to return to Leuchie.

Melissa Bradley