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Farming matters: Phil Garnham - 'Covid-19 has been a rude awakening for the self-employed like me'

As I sit and write this, the children have returned to school.

Since January 5 we have been homeschooling, just like millions of other families, which, when you have two children aged seven and six who just want to run around outside all day on the farm, is equivalent to herding cats.

 

We learned from last year‘S lockdown that you get downstairs, have breakfast and crack on. The trouble is no matter how efficient we are, the ‘teaching’ would last until about 3pm.

 

By this time, having gone through maths, the history of the Roman invasion of Britain (it lasted more than 300 years by the way) and whatever the book it is that needs to be read and digested in order to do the eight questions at the end, both my wife and I were left feeling a tad drained and unenthusiastic; about anything.

 

And this could relate to anything. Make a phone call; no chance. Try and fire off a few emails; you must be kidding.

 

As soon as the lovely Mrs G or I tried anything remotely constructive with our time then our assistance was needed immediately to help build a den, sit and read a book with them or do some painting.

 

Now, these are all lovely things and I know there will be a time when they won’t want or need our assistance with anything in the future and we do cherish these moments, but after spending nine of the last 12 months with our children, at home, it is nice to finally get on with work again.

 

Joking aside, this has not been an easy time for anyone. In fact, we stopped watching the news. And reading the papers. Or anything that kept referring to the number of people who had passed away like it was a cricket score as it was not something that added anything positive to our day.

 

Social media got canned too. The ramblings of ‘experts’ on social media who aren’t going to take the vaccine so the Government could spy on them were particularly trying.

Instead, what we did embrace as a family was cooking and baking: roast dinners, biscuits, cakes, stews, soups – basically anything that involved making a lot of nice smelling stuff in the kitchen. And it was made mostly with butter, dripping or lard.

 

I have discovered my inner James Martin, which unfortunately has also become my outer James Martin as I managed to gain two-and-a-bit stone over the first three months of the year.

 

It appears I have also discovered a flair for making cocktails. And drinking cocktails. This too may have contributed to my ‘padding’, as my wife affectionately calls it.

 

I take the dog out for a walk and look at people jogging in their fluorescent tops in the distance. I muse to myself something about making an effort to go for a run but then remind myself that I won’t drive eight miles these days, let alone run it, and then I go indoors and complain that my jeans ‘have shrunk in the wash’.

 

Do I care? A bit, but I am just too fatigued with this ‘Covid life’ to care. At this point I am grateful that we have come this far.

 

Normality is around the corner, we hope. And in 12 months we shall look back at this time and think, ‘just how did we manage to get through it’?

 

As someone who became self-employed at the start of last year, it has been a rude awakening to budgeting and not turning down the chance to work on a role, but it has also made me think about the quality of clients I work with.

 

Expensive lessons have been learned. Valuable new clients have teamed up with me and I am working with candidates on a more individual basis, rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’. And it appears to be working, which is nice.

 

Much like my waistline, my business portfolio continues to grow and it is with that sentiment that I hope you all gain a few extra monetary pounds in the year ahead.

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