It was Saturday March 21st 2020 when I received a phone call from my boss. He said that I was to be furloughed as from Monday. We had already had a conversation the week previous about the virus and what he thought was the way forward but now it became real.

So from Monday it was a case of my wife Anita and I staying in as much as possible, no holding or hugging our family, my daughter and the grandkids and no shopping.

A few days after I received the letters from the NHS and the government advising I was to be furloughed for a minimum of 12 weeks. This could be a rehearsal for my retirement next year, but with a difference.

I always walk the dog before work so I decided to walk a bit further for my exercise period and walk into Stoke back along the canal, which is about three miles. The dog loved it and each day I found it easier and I improved my fitness. I passed a few people but everyone adhered to the 2-metre distance rule.

Then there were all those jobs I had put off for years. I painted the outside of the house, practiced my joinery skills, spring cleaned, made scones (never done that before), boarded the loft and spent some time tidying the garden. I’ve made some raised beds out of old recycling boxes to grow some vegetables etc. I'm still waiting for the result.

My renal appointment was due by phone so I had to make an appointment for a blood test. It was very strange when I attended and there were only two other people there, any way had it done and results were good when the consultant phoned.

So, 10 weeks down the line, people are returning to work, shops are starting to open, the public are becoming lax about the social distancing rules, toilet rolls are in abundance but the virus is still around and I’m still isolating.

Stay safe, be strong, this virus won’t be around forever. 

Robert Jepson