Being asked to write about how I spent lockdown isn’t a scenario I would’ve ever believed possible this time last year. To me, the word lockdown back then was a word in relation to prisons, not something I would ever experience.

Out For Blood

Out For Blood

And then COVID hit.

I clearly remember standing with other mums in the school playground, rumours of the first confirmed case in Aberdeen the topic of gossip. Chatting about the mass coverage of a projected pandemic in the media, us not believing for a second that the threats of school closure would ever come true.

Two weeks later that same playground was deserted.

Fear was what I felt that first night of being told we were to stay indoors. That we should only venture out for food or medical supplies. My phone was beeping non-stop with texts from friends and family with stories of almost riots in the bid to buy toilet paper and pasta.

Lockdown. Prison. Riots. Suddenly it felt like my reality.

Those five months were surreal; keeping me and the kids going daily with home-schooling; finding a friendship and kinship with my next-door neighbour that we never knew we had. Making sure we looked out for one another if one of us managed to grab an online supermarket slot, talking at distance over the wall, letting the kids see each other but only at 2m minimum.

There were days that our home did feel like we were living in a 6 by 8 cell, but there were also many times I was surprised to find myself grateful for being forced to slow the pace of life down; to return to basics.

But distraction could be hard. Not only with two kids constantly with me but also because my writing and reading mojo had seemingly gone out the window – two things that had always provided escape.

Thankfully, escapism came in a different form for me and the kids. A small and fluffy form. Our puppy Harley came to live with us. We had been to choose him prior to lock-down but I ended up spending weeks fretting we wouldn’t be able to get him so the relief and excitement – and, yes, blessed distraction - were the best thing that could’ve happened to us.

Suddenly I found myself standing out in the garden at the break of dawn trying to toilet train the pup. It was a time of day I’d rarely seen. So quiet, feeling like the only person in the world. It led to me thinking a lot. Reassessing what I wanted out of life once we were free again.

A month after we came out of lockdown one of those things came true. Winning the Bloody Scotland Best Scottish Crime debut wasn’t just about the award, it was about me being told that something I’d written was good enough.

And carrying on with my writing - learning and improving, as well as showing my kids that dreams can come true, is something I want from life for sure.

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