Upon Westminster Bridge

Sunrise over the river Thames near Westminster bridge

It has just been announced from Westminster that Boris Johnson, the prime minister, Nick Hancock, the health minister, Dr Witty, the chief medical officer and Prince Charles have all gone into self isolation with Corona virus. Here in Britain we are in lock down and non essential workers and most pensioners have to stay at home. We are only allowed out to buy essential supplies and to exercise near home once a day. We are not allowed to visit friends or family.

I admit I am finding it hard especially not being able to pass the time of day with friends and neighbours. I normally help in a local CLIC charity shop a couple of mornings a week and I miss the feeling of being useful.  ClIC raises funds to help children and young people with cancer and   their work is even more important at the moment. I worry how they and other important charities will survive.

A few years ago as a registered nurse I would have been an essential worker and I feel very guilty when I play yet another game of Candy Crush.  I think we all need to be busy.  We are lucky.  My family are well. I live with my daughter and my husband so I can enjoy shared activities. We have cats and a garden. We have food, money, heating , the internet, Facebook, Netflix, You tube……

The last couple of weeks  I have been grateful for unexpected things, stairs to climb, carpets to hoover, dishes to wash. There have also  been unexpected benefits. Because there is less light and less pollution we can see more stars, less noise means we hear more bird song.  The featured image was sent to me by my son Richard who  is at home in his flat in Central London. He says he took it because it reminded him of the famous photo of St. Pauls cathedral taken during the blitz.

It reminded me of  one of my favourite poems

Upon Westminster bridge by William Wordsworth

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Wordsworth wrote this poem in 1802 when we were in the middle of the Napoleonic wars with France. He was about to catch a boat to France with his sister Dorothy to visit his former girlfriend and daughter for the first time since the French revolution. The world must have seemed a frightening place but he could still appreciate the beauty of the urban landscape. Until now London has probably not looked as calm and quiet again. A few years later the city would be filled with the noise, smoke and bustle of the industrial revolution.

It is so strange to see closed restaurants and shops: So many people afraid to leave their houses. Many people have coloured rainbows and put them in their windows with the message “the brightest rainbow comes after the darkest storm”

I hope you are keeping safe where ever you are and that before long we can all be out and about sharing hugs with our families, gossip with our neighbours and walks with our friends.

I want to share a couple of sites I found useful.

BT skills for tomorrow. Teaching materials for every thing from online banking to social media. I even managed my first video conference call who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

Dr. Hope’s sick notes  I find understanding more about the enemy helps. Dr. Hope is a hospital doctor working on the front line who uses every thing from Japanese anime to Lego to explain the science behind the corona epidemic and to bring dispatches from the emergency room.

Leslie Sansone walking at home workouts.  Leslie Sansone is an American fitness coach who has uploaded lots of fun walking workout suitable for older people to help you keep fit at home.

As always I would love your comments and to hear how you are doing. I am sending a virus free cyber hug to you all.

Two teddybears sheltering under an umbrella on a bench
Waiting for the rainbow






Author: Anne Fraser

Hi, I am Anne, I am a retired nurse from Bristol in South West England. I am married with five grown up children, four boys and a girl , a grandson and a cat. I like History, travel and reading. I hope to connect with other people with similar interests.

24 thoughts on “Upon Westminster Bridge”

  1. Like you I am a retired nurse and often think of former colleagues on the front lines. We too are no longer volunteering with charities and wonder how the demands will be met. The quiet time has been a gift in many ways as I reflect on life priorities for future and what is truly important. I’m not sure if it had not been for the quiet state that I would have been able to experience the depth of gratitude for simple things from a warm home to the extraordinary adventures and travels we have experienced.
    Stay well and I have sent a message to you via your contact page regarding your contribution to a collaborative post in the future. Much appreciated.

  2. It is so strange how everything fees so different to just a month ago and the blind belief that it wouldn’t be THAT bad. These are some great resources though – Iike the Sick Notes as they’re far more understandable than the news!

  3. It feels strange with all the shops shut. My husband works in an Indian restaurant, but they are still open doing takeaways. To be honest, I think they should shut, as I don’t think takeaways are ‘essential’

  4. I’m pretty used to being at home due to health issues, but now not being able to go out at all, has me for the first time feeling the cabin fever set in.

  5. I am avoiding the news with the exception of the daily updates from the government. I am still working so I have that to keep me busy

  6. Your so right, I am trying to be grateful of the things we have rather than what we might feel we are missing right now. I feel extremely lucky to have a garden as my kids are out in it for quite a few hours each day.

  7. It’s such an anxious and uncertain time isn’t it! I have young children so we are trying to keep things as normal and calm for them but its so hard when everything that was normal for them has now stopped! This is a lovely poem, thanks for sharing!

  8. It seems strange that we have gone from being able to go about our daily lives with no restrictions to being on lockdown. I never thought I would see anything like this but it is great how the majority of the country are sticking to the rules x

  9. I find it so strange to be indoors when we are a family that tend to be out a lot. We look forward to our walk everyday. It can be quite surreal to see popular land marks so empty!

  10. We’re on similar “stay at home” orders here in the US as well. This is a time I never thought I would see, it almost seems unreal and its nowhere near over.

  11. What a beautiful and meaningful poem by William Wordsworth, somehow it sounds so relevant even though it was written so long ago. William Wordsworth always had a way with words.

  12. It has certainly been the craziest time ever and we will never forget this year… ever! I too am very grateful for the things I have taken for granted previously. Even going as far to say I will never moan about mowing lawns ever again, it means we can get outside. I just hope we can all ride this out safely and everyone stays well. I’ve tried to stay away from reading the news today and feel much better for it! Sim x

  13. I couldn’t help but laugh at the part about “All bright and glittering in the smokeless air” considering an arse of a neighbour behind us keeps lighting continual bonfires every day. When you can’t go anywhere else, the garden is so important. I’ve been taking short walks around it since lockdown but thanks to him I can’t really even do that now. Grr. Anyway, excellent post, Anne, and I totally agree with how bizarre the whole situation is, how strange the emptiness and separation feels. I’m glad you have family there. Please stay as safe and as well as possible  ♥
    Caz xx

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