• Clare

In which we have our first lockdown visitors

Last week the Government announced that it would be acceptable for groups of up to six people to meet in a private garden. So who did we invite on that first day?



The In-Laws. Not everyone's first choice, I can appreciate. But for me, the first people I wanted to see were my Husband's parents. The minute I heard the announcement, I immediately cornered the Husband in the kitchen. "Shall we invite your parents round for a barbeque on Monday?" I asked. He glanced at me nonchalantly over his cup of coffee. "If you like" he shrugged. Of course, there are other people who I'd love to see as well. My Brother-In-Law, his wife and family, for one. Every time I'm sent a photo of the Niece & Nephew, I can't believe how much they've grown! My school mum friends, who group message on a near daily basis. Usually to fret about sending the kids back to school, to question why on earth Boris has announced his latest development, or to moan about how hard we're finding mixed fractions! My running buddy and her family, with whom we've had many adventures around the country, attending various races. Our friends across the road, whose baby is due this month. I'd imagine it'll be a good few months before I can cuddle him. And my Goddaughter; born three weeks before lockdown. Who, although I went to see in the first week of her life, I wasn't able to enter her house, as I had a cough. It turned out to be nothing, but you can never be too careful. Especially with a newborn baby. So I stood two metres from the doorstep and cooed over her in her father's arms.


You may be wondering why my In-Laws were my first choice, so let me give you a little background. I was introduced to the Husband when we were both just seventeen; a friend of a friend kind of situation. We met with a group of mutual friends in a pub on our usual Saturday night out, back in the days when you could get drunk for a tenner. Anyone remember Reef's for 99p per bottle? The Husband told his friend on the way home that night, that I was the girl he was going to marry, (I'm not being big-headed, this really did happen) and here we are seventeen years later! Within two years of meeting, we were all on our way to Somerset to start a new life together. From the first time the Husband bought me back to meet his Mum & Dad, they welcomed me as family, and they've been like parents to me ever since.


For the first eighteen months of our life as Publicans, the four of us lived in the flat above the pub. At times, it was incredibly tough; living together and working together. It didn't take us long to find our own flat around the corner, but I still missed the late night chats with the Father-In Law over a glass of red wine once the pub had closed. As a result of being so close, I treat them as parents and they treat me as their Daughter. Unfortunately, that also means that when one of us is stressed, we tend to take it out on each other. It can be frustrating, but in other ways, hugely comforting to know that there's always a shoulder to cry on.


We didn't tell the kids that Nanny and Grandad would be coming, and they were delighted when they appeared in the garden with biscuits and sweets galore. (One of the advantages of being a Grandparent, I have learnt, is that you can shower the Grandchildren with treats, and not need to worry about the side effects! Thanks Nanny!) I can't complain too much; the Father-In-Law didn't come empty handed. He presented us with two bags of beer and his famous homemade barbeque marinade.


So, we all sat two metres apart, catching up on the last ten weeks, though we have been speaking on the phone and via Messenger regularly. Luckily, we had the foresight to put the paddling pool ten metres away from the decking, so that once we had all finished eating, the kids could jump in and I wasn't having to continuously say to them "Don't come any closer to Nanny," as if she was emitting fatal levels of radioactivity.


I have to say, as Mother-In-Law's go, she's incredibly supportive. If she thinks the Husband is in the wrong, she has no problem in telling him so and will put him straight if she feels he's being unreasonable. Not bad considering he's the youngest of her three boys; a full five years junior of the middle brother, and, therefore, the baby in her eyes. (He's thirty five!) However, this does not exclude the fact that she is, still, The Mother in Law! So, was I up bright and early to make sure the house was in order? Even though, at most, she would only pop inside for a minute to use the loo? You bet I was! All kitchen surfaces were wiped down thoroughly and inspected from every angle to make sure no smears were visible. The dishwasher was emptied, and everything put away from the draining board. The crockery was organised, to ensure that we had a matching service to present the delicacy that is chargrilled chicken wings and slightly warm salad. Every loose item around the house was shoved into the nearest cupboard. Cushions were plumped and rugs straightened. The downstairs bathroom got the full treatment, as if one of the children had caught the dreaded sickness bug and every centimetre needed to be scrubbed to within an inch of its life. The dining room carpet was hoovered and re-hoovered in case any crumbs of toast remained from this morning's breakfast.


And it wasn't just me! I noticed the Husband had bleached the toilet and shower and scoured the kitchen sink and draining board until it was gleaming. Obviously, neither of us commented on what we were blatantly doing, but, put it this way; he knows I'm never cleaning the house by 8am, and I know he doesn't usually bleach the shower and kitchen sink. Unless it gets to the stage where it's growing it's own microorganisms, and how the hell had it gotten into that state anyway? By the time his parents arrived ten minutes before One, (trying to catch us out, I think), we were pottering around the garden; pretending we'd been enjoying the sun all morning and hadn't had to give a second thought to the presentation of our house, as it was always immaculate. Would she have mentioned if there was any mess? No. Would she have gone home and commented on it to the Father-In-Law? Possibly. Well, she is a Mother-In-Law, after all...

Who was your first choice of lockdown visitor? Let me know by leaving me a comment.


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