A recurring phrase over the past few weeks has been ‘when this lockdown is over I’m going to…’ as people dream of their celebratory first acts of freedom post-Covid. Here Team AG says what they will be doing.

Garry Coward-Williams, editor

I’m quite a ‘homey’ person, so really the lockdown was not a big deal to me aside from the initial problems of getting food and necessities. And it did mean I spent more in the garden, which was the best part by far!

What I’m looking forward to most is seeing my three grandchildren, Rory, Grace and Noah. They live about 80 miles away, so it’s not been possible to see them, but I guess that would be the same for anyone with extended family.

Garry is missing his gorgeous grandchildren, what little stars they are!

There are a couple of other things I would like to do to as soon as we’re released from lockdown:

I’m looking forward to a night out with the AG Team. It’ll probably start at the local bowling ally near our offices in Farnborough, where we’ll all be hopelessly awful, and yet one of us inexplicably wins (and it isn’t me). Then off to the Johney Gurkha curry house in Aldershot for spicy treats, laughs and beers.

The team have been great throughout the lockdown, working harder than ever and always with a smile on their faces. They’re a great bunch, we all get on well and I miss being with them.

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Secondly, I’d like to go to a football match in a stadium full of thousands of bustling people. What a strange experience that would be after having had to stand at least 6ft away from everyone!

About a week before the lockdown I joined AG’s art editor Al Rigger for a game at Portsmouth Football Club. It was an FA Cup tie and they were playing my team Arsenal. Al got me in the Fratton End, surrounded by hardcore Portsmouth fans.

They knew I was Arsenal and yet they couldn’t have been more friendly. The atmosphere electric and I got to experience what an old-style family club was like — it took me back to the 1970s. I vowed to go again and I will.

 

Lesley Upton, features editor

Like many people, after the Coronavirus lockdown I plan to have a barbecue and drink a lot. For me, drinking a lot is three glasses of wine, as I usually only drink at birthdays and at Christmas. However, on this occasion I will certainly make an exception.

Many of our neighbours have said we should have a ‘street-party’ kind of barbecue and I think that’s a good idea. We’ve all been looking out for each other, grocery shopping and visiting the pharmacy included, so it will be nice for everyone to get together.

dog stealing food from barbecue

My dog isn’t quite as bad as this dog when it comes to stealing food. Credit: Alamy

My dog Harvey, who’s a cocker spaniel, will be at the barbecue, as he has been helping me though the lockdown. He’s the excuse I need to go out for a walk, and as he doesn’t understand the seriousness of what’s going on, he provides me with some sort of routine. He still expects to be fed, walked and cuddled – and that’s great.

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However, Harvey is a food thief, so people had better watch out if they leave their plates anywhere near him. He’s not quite as bad as the dog in the picture above, but he will take advantage of any situation to steal food.

cocker spaniel

My cocker spaniel Harvey.

Don’t be fooled by that ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ expression seen here – if you drop any food, he’s in there as fast as a whippet and he won’t give it up. He’s stolen cooked chicken bones (yes, I know dogs aren’t supposed to eat them, but you tell him that as he lifts the bin lid), sausages, curry, pasta – you name it, he’s had it.

But I wouldn’t be without him and I can’t wait for all of us to be together, enjoying our ‘freedom’ once again, once this pandemic is over.

 

Kathryn Wilson, features compiler

When the lockdown (finally) ends I’m looking forward to so many things. Taking my dog for more than one walk a day (he’s not a fan of crossing his legs and has a tendency to pee on my plants when let in the garden), finally celebrating my sister’s birthday with her, being able to plan a holiday and visiting shops (actual shops!) for pleasure, rather than just scurrying in and out of my local supermarket to get the essentials once a week – they all feature on the extensive list.

Kathryn can’t wait to get walking her dog Bruno again, more than once a day (and neither can Bruno!) (Image: Alamy)

However, above all, I’m looking forward to taking my mum and my 13-year-old daughter to our local garden centre. It’s usually a monthly ritual and one of the few things that appeals equally to all three generations.

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At almost 89, my mum is one of AG’s biggest (and oldest) fans. We’re lucky enough to have her living with us and to benefit from her gardening skills (or sometimes, it has to be said, kills) and experience, and she likes nothing better than learning about new plants.

On our trips to the garden centre we each get to choose something new before admiring our purchases over tea and cake, then taking them home to plant straight away. It’s something so normal, so everyday – and right now it’s all the more precious for that.

 

Ruth Hayes, gardening editor

It’s so hard to picture what life will be like when the lockdown finally ends. Surely we won’t go straight back to where we were, there must have to be a gradual softening of lines and reopening of society?

Whatever the ‘new normal’ is, it needs to be embraced and I can’t wait to see the family and friends again at last. We have plans to do a ‘virtual’ curry night with one group, but it really isn’t the same as sitting down and snapping a popadom together.

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I need to hug our daughter (locked away in London, where she is at uni) and see the rest of ‘the fam’, as an extended family holiday in Cornwall to celebrate assorted birthdays and anniversaries fell victim to the virus.

Ruth is missing the heat and stunning beauty of southern Spain

I can picture it now, a raucous reunion with tables piled with food and drink, endless chat and laughter late into the night, rude jokes, our great-niece toddling around and bossing everyone into order, the dog vacuuming up dropped food, the cats hiding in the garden.

The next important thing is rebooking cancelled holidays for next year, to Cornwall and also to our favourite place in Spain, a small town in Andalusia between Granada and the coast. If flights do become prohibitively pricey, we will still get there even if it means driving down (which would be a lot of fun).

Leisurely browsing the shelves in a charity bookshop is one of the joys of life (Image: Alamy)

Then it’s onto my favourite weekend pastimes of browsing charity shops and bookshops. I get most of my clothes from charity shops because it saves money, helps a good cause, is a brilliant way of recycling and because the thrill of finding a real bargain cannot be underestimated.

The same goes for charity bookshops. You get more books for your buck and only spending a couple of quid on each gives you the freedom to experiment with authors. If you like what you find you can read on – though try and buy from independent bookstores if possible, they need our help more than ever now.

However, the VERY first thing I’m going to do is get my broken tooth sorted. Two weeks in and two lots of antibiotics/painkillers and it’s getting extremely boring!

 

Wendy Humphries, letters editor

Wendy is missing walks along the Dorset coast and the beauty of Lulworth Cove

I couldn’t think of a better change of scene than to visit the coast. Not only for the fresh sea air and views, but for the feel-good factor that you get from going on a long walk. We are lucky that the Jurassic Coast is within half an hour’s drive from our home.

The breathtaking coastline is a natural World Heritage Site and stretches for 95 miles from Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage in Dorset to Orcombe Point, near Exmouth, Devon. When the children were small we’d idle away the time at Charmouth or Kimmeridge, the boys loved looking for fossils and playing around the rock pools.

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I’m looking forward to going to our usual destinations including thestretches of coast around Lulworth Cove, Worbarrow Bay or West Bay and discovering new walking trails. It’s become a tradition to head to the picturesque town of Lyme Regis for the fish and chips at the end of the day, which always taste better when eaten straight out of the wrapper.

During the lockdown it’s been fascinating watching the progress people have made in nearby gardens. I notice everything is slightly ahead because the weather has been so good.

In my garden the Japanese Wisteria (W. floribunda‘Rosea’) that has taken over an entire elder tree is starting to flower and the rose buds are in abundance and fattening up nicely.With lots to look forward to I don’t really mind staying here at ‘Ourgate’!

 

 

We are here for you

Although many people are coping well with self-isolation, others are really struggling and feeling completely forgotten and alone.

Here at AG we are doing our best to keep connected to our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer withing 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@ti-media.com

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We already have thriving Facebook page but are also on Twitter and Instagram. These sites are a brilliant way of chatting to people, sharing news, information, pictures and just saying hello – we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Best of all, as gardeners are generally lovely folk, more interested in plants, hedgehogs, tea and cake than political shenanigans and point-scoring, so the chat is friendly and welcoming.

So please drop by, follow us, ‘like’ our posts and say hello – the Instagram feed is in it’s really early days so the quicker we can get that going with your help and support, the better!

You can find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/AmateurGardeningMagazine

Twitter: Twitter.com/TheAGTeam