WE ARE HOME - FINSBURY PARK IN LOCKDOWN 1

This ongoing photographic series is being developed in early 2020, during which time, movements have been severely restricted in the UK to limit the spread of Covid-19. All the photographs are taken in Finsbury Park, an area of north London, during my period of daily exercise.

Social distancing was maintained throughout the shoots. I wanted to tell the story of a variety of different homes, which have taken on a very different role in these strange times. I also wanted to show and celebrate the resilience of the inhabitants; how they’ve been affected by, and dealt with the coronavirus.

These unusual circumstances have affected us all, but affected us in different ways.

Please click on any of the thumbnails to read their stories.

If you would like to be involved in the project, please contact me.


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N4VIV_009
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are Ian, Valli and Viv, who is three and a half years old. Our home is pretty cosy; we are lucky enough to have a lovely balcony which gets lots of afternoon sunshine, and we are a stone’s throw from Finsbury Park.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Ian has been furloughed and Valli, who is self employed in the fashion industry, is working a little but there has been a significant downturn in work. Viv is home from nursery so both parents take turns playing with him. We walk and cycle in the park, or nature reserve everyday.

How are you all with everything?
Viv is loving having both mummy and daddy home to play with! Although it’s been tough at times, we are really enjoying one another’s company.

The most challenging part of the lockdown, apart from keeping a very active 3 year old entertained, is being separated from vulnerable family members, we are so grateful for Skype, Zoom and Facetime!

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N4MASL_002
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are Miranda, Adam, Sami (6) and Leila (2¾). The four of us live on the top two floors our house; my parents (Leila and Sami’s grandparents) usually live on the bottom two floors (ground and basement), but because of my dad’s underlying health condition they moved out right at the beginning of the crisis, when the children were still at school and nursery. We are so thankful that they were able to go and stay at a friend’s, and we also feel lucky to have space, and access to a beautiful garden. Our part of the house is a complete mess most of the time, with toys, cardboard boxes and other half-finished or finished art projects everywhere. I go between feeling pretty relaxed about this, and feeling not so relaxed at all! Some weekends I manage to clean things, which is often therapeutic but not always possible.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Our main problem has been over-work. Adam has a very busy full-time job, which is, in fact, two peoples’ jobs. Under normal circumstances my part-time job as a lecturer takes up 3-4 days a week… so with two children to look after all the time, the Maths does not add up. Adam works every evening, and I work most evenings. The kids aren’t really at an age when they can be left alone to play together for long periods, so I’m ashamed to say that screens have been a life and sanity-saver. But in the times when I’ve had less to do (the Spring holidays, for example), I’ve really enjoyed the slow days with Sami and Leila, with Adam joining us for our daily exercise.

How are you all with everything?
It really varies from day to day. Some days it feels like an unexpected gift to have so much time together, and it’s comforting to know that we’re all safe; we hit on an activity that we all enjoy, and I feel like Sami and Leila might be getting something out of the time spent collecting pet worms, watching snails, planting cucumbers that then get eaten by the snails, and the endless games of Uno, snakes and ladders, or pretending to be cats/dogs/lions/babies. Other days when Adam and I both have urgent work to do and can’t concentrate properly on either work or the children it’s incredibly stressful, and of course the children pick up on that. I feel like I’m doing badly on both fronts, and I begin to worry about things like whether Sami’s doing enough school work.
The future is a bit of a puzzle – particularly for my parents. But I’m keenly aware that for many people that puzzle is even harder to solve.

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N4CMAA_005
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
It’s the four of us in a classic Victorian Terrace with a garden: Claudia and Max with Alma (6) and Ada (3)

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We are both academics working from home. We self-isolated for two weeks before the official lockdown so got into a habit of not going out at all. We were lucky to get delivery slots for grocery deliveries, and a friend/shopowner delivering bread etc. when we’re desperate. Miraculously our vegetable box also continues to come every week. So we hardly go out at all, except for very occasional strolls around the neighourhood. I’ve been shopping only once in all this time.

How are you all with everything?
We oscillate between on one hand seeing this time as a bit of a gift to spend so much time together and go at a slower pace and, on the other, shock from the sheer enormity of it all. The girls have been largely amazing, rather creative in coming up with games and role play they can do within this confinement, and adapting in an amazing manner–both have made huge leaps in playing on their own and with each other… We’ve also been letting them do many more things on their own and independently than we would have before, such as Alma cooking and making coffee and Ada setting the table. I do wonder how we will get back to normality after this experience.

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N4CGMAT_025
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are a family of 5: Geoffroy, Charlotte, Marius (4), Apolline (2) and Timeo (8 months). We live in a small two-bedroom garden flat, which most of the time looks like a nursery with toys all over the place.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Geoffroy is a designer and works from home. We set up a desk for him in the kids bedroom as they never play there. I’m a user experience contractor, but the sudden appearance of the Coronavirus made it impossible for me to find a new contract. So I’m the one looking after the kids.

How are you all with everything?
I’m not gonna lie, this lockdown can be challenging but at the end of the day it gives us the opportunity to slow down and enjoy some precious time together like never before.

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N4MCCM_028
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
Luckily we have a 3 bed renovated house with a lovely garden – we are a family of 4 with two toddlers under 4 years old (one is nearly 4 and the other 13 months)

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
My husband is currently working full time in the main bedroom and I am downstairs with the two kids all day as I have been furloughed. The kids needs to get out twice a day – one time in the garden in the morning with a newly bought trampoline which works wonders – and after we do bike training in Wray Crescent – the cricket field in front of our house that is still open. I personally go out for run in morning by myself.

How are you all with everything?
It’s great to spend some time together as a family – I don’t think this has ever happened to us this long before, so in one way we feel very lucky but it’s also a bit claustrophobic and with two toddlers it gets really noisy. I turn myself into a teacher or full time nanny and it’s a lot of work while my husband is juggling with being full time (but still helping me at times). We have big laughs but it’s also a lot of meltdowns. We always look forward to spend some time just me and him in the evening.

Bedtime is usually really early to cope with the early start and no break day with two toddlers.

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N4JRTM_021
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
In our home there’s Rich, Joanna, Thibault (3.5 year old), and Mila (2 years old). Rich speaks English to the kids and I speak French to them. One of the positives of the lockdown is that I’ve noticed that Thibault’s French has improved as he’s a home all day with me.

Overall we are lucky since we have plenty of space in the garden and a great local community.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Rich is working full time from home so we sometimes don’t see him at all. The kids found it hard having their Dad at home (and not seeing him) at the beginning but now they are used to the routine and know not to disturb him in the office.

I’m not working at the moment (due to redundancy) which, on a positive, means I’ve been able to look after both kids without the stress of having to catch up on work as well.

We go out nearly every day for at least an hour, so that Thibault can whizz around on his bike and Mila can walk. I also often go out very early in the morning for a run or a walk, which is great for my mental health. It’s my form of meditation.

How are you all with everything?
Overall we are well. As with everyone, the first week was really tough as we were all getting used to our new life and routine.

We were obviously very worried at the beginning with vulnerable relatives and how to get provision and medical care for Mila. We have felt the impact of the virus, as the care that she receives has changed massively – all her specialist doctors and care team have been diverted to Covid-19.

But in the grand scheme of things, we are doing well as a family and we firmly believe there are a lot of positives that will come out from this lockdown: unique family memories, testing of our resilience, and realising how we need to look after ourselves, friends, family and the environment.

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N4SAEJ_032
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
The four of us including our two kids (Elise is 3 years and Jacob 11 months) plus our cat Millie. We have enough indoor space, but no garden.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We are both doctors, so both need to work. Fortunately our nursery is able to provide childcare for both kids to allow us to do this.

How are you all with everything?
We’re very lucky. Having a job where we are obliged to go out to go to work, and send the kids to nursery, means that we are all able to maintain some sense of normality about our lives.

Also we have some amazing friends who have been looking after us when our work was really tough – making us delicious food (it helps if you are friends with a chef!), bringing us wine and lending us bikes to name but a few.

Fortuitously, Jacob, has not yet learnt to crawl which makes lock down with a baby much easier.

The one thing that would make a big difference to our lives would be a garden, but compared to a lot of people we are really fortunate.

We both miss our families – Shona’s parents are over 70 and it feels that it will be a long time before social distancing restrictions will be lifted on that age group. It’s heartbreaking to think that it might be over a year before they see their grandchildren again (although Skype/Zoom/FaceTime all help bridge this gap).

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N4SRIJ_033
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are two dads with two daughters born through surrogacy in the US. Our girls are sisters through the egg donor and we are a biological father each. We are both at home with the children, but Ron has a very busy job and is currently working between 12-15 hours per day.

As two dads, Simon is always the primary carer and so assumes the role a bit like mum. As we were struggling (for Simon to do any work) we have now moved our housekeeper in for a few weeks during the curve peak. So there are currently five people in the home.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
For the first few weeks Ron spent most of the day working with Simon completely doing childcare/running the home/cooking and cleaning. It was an absolute nightmare, and a complete shock to the system.

We slowly got ourselves into a rhythm though, and have actually created some lovely memories. We now have Sonia working with us. So our day usually takes on this rough timetable:
– 8:30: breakfast
– 9:30-12: Daddy activity time (sometimes a visit to Highgate woods)
– 12-12:30pm: lunch (as a family if we can)
– 12:30 – 4: Juno nap, Inès downtime or activity with Sonia, Daddy working
– 4-6: activity time – usually cooking or something in the garden
– 6.00: dinner time
– 7:00pm: Bath time then bedtime

When we can we always try to get out and go to Highgate woods. We stay off the main pathways and normally find a quiet spot amongst the trees where the girls can play hide and seek with Daddy.

We have tended to avoid going out at weekends because it’s just too busy.

How are you all with everything?
We are definitely in a nice rhythm now and to be honest really enjoying our time together as a family. We have made puppets, dance to flamenco, produced lots of artwork, and cooked everything from gingerbread men to chocolate bananas.

I think we will definitely come out of lockdown richer and more self-sufficient. We do watch TV but we know we can survive without it.

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N4ERBJ_006
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We’re Ryan, Emma, Bea, Jasper and Alma, our cat. We’re really lucky, we live in a house, with a garden. We had a tricky start – we had been without a working kitchen for many months, and it was reinstalled the day before lockdown was declared. If we were still without an oven or washing machine and still washing up in the bath we would probably be feeling very different about the experience.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We’re both freelance and we feel lucky to have work at the moment, but we’re also more or less doing full time hours and juggling zoom conference calls with home schooling children in two different years has been interesting to say that least. It’s been a steep learning curve. The first week or so was stressful, not knowing what the expectations were for our amateur teaching, but we’ve settled into more of a rhythm. Some elements of home schooling have been fun too – my Dad did a series of zoom talks for the kids and their friends about living in London during the war, and my friend Anna is doing a weekly art club and nature club, which the kids love. Bea’s been doing a zoom baking club with her friends.

How are you all with everything?
Overall we’ve actually quite enjoyed being at home. We all miss being with our friends though we do see people at a distance. It’s been a strange time but it’s been a lovely time too. We’ve discovered new places to go for a walk, taken up dog breed identifying on Hampstead Heath and tried out a few new sports in our pocket-sized garden. I’ve labelled tennis balls, footballs and shuttlecocks with our street number so neighbours know which garden to fire them back into. It’s been sport vs my beloved plant pots, but I’ve now found an activity that works for both – playing badminton over the washing line.

It’s been a nice time for our local community too; it has quite a villagey feel anyway, and since lockdown everyone’s been helping each other out in different ways. We’ve all been benefiting from a lot of home baking, a weekly quiz and DJ sets by different neighbours, and we’ve been sharing cuttings, seeds and allotment goodies. Ryan’s been baking bread for us and our friends. We’ve also spent more time chatting with our friends and our families than we would normally, which has been another fringe benefit. It’s amazing how quickly we’ve all adapted to our new lockdown lifestyle.

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N4EMAN_008
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
Mum, Dad and our 2 daughters of 4 and 7 years old. All in the house, luckily we have a garden and space!

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
The parents are working full time during the week, sometimes Mariano even has to log in as the weekend as he’s just started a new job.

I’m not going out except to buy food when we can’t get a delivery. Mariano and the girls go for a quick bike ride daily, weather permitting.

How are you all with everything?
It’s intense! Mostly we feel guilty for not giving enough attention to the kids, especially Nora who needs to be around company. But I’m trying to work less and be more focussed on them and the home, we’ll see! I think it’s an opportunity for me to refocus as well so I’m trying my best.🙂

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N4LWLFK_011
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We’re Lil and Will and the kids are Laurie (7), Felix (4) and Kit (4 months). They’res also Sylvie and Moss, our cats. We’re in a small flat, crammed full of stuff and somewhat on top of each other. We love it though and we have a little garden to sit in and grow plants. We got an allotment recently so we’ve got seedlings on every windowsill.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Will is working, he’s a lecturer at King’s College. He sits at a makeshift desk in our bedroom. I’m on maternity leave so me and the kids go to the park, bake cakes, watch films, shout at each other and play games.

How are you all with everything?
We’re okay. It’s all fairly abstract for the kids. They pick up on our worry so we’re trying to be careful but as relaxed as possible. There’s lots of blessing counting and crossed fingers for our parents and everyone else.

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N4TN_001
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
There are two of us – Tom and Noellie in a middle flat with no access to a garden or balcony. We have an old but active dog Henry (spaniel) and fish. Our flat is big enough and has a spare room so we haven’t felt too claustrophobic.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
As for work, Noellie is a physiotherapist and the owner of a practice. She now does most of her work over the internet but she does see one critical patient in person. Her workload has gone down but her business is financially secure so we understand we are a lot better off than most, so actually need to be grateful. As for me, I’m a teacher so have been going in once or twice a week. Teachers are either in with a depleted team and less children, or offering work online supporting the children and parents at home as much as is possible. As for getting out we take the dog out but it’s different now as due to social distancing – the dog is required to have a lead. Noellie does lots of exercise in the house and loves yoga and palates. I go out cycling and Noellie occasionally comes out too.

How are you all with everything?
We are both pretty positive people and feel like we know and see that lots of people are in a lot worse position than us. So we are grateful for our luck. We are worried for our family and friends and just hope everyone stays safe and healthy. We’ve started to ring our family and friends more on apps like Zoom etc. so we are trying to stay as connected as possible whilst following the guidelines. We are optimistic, yet aware this world won’t go back to normal once measures start getting lifted. We are just trying to adapt to a new norm for now. As for Henry, our dog, he loves quarantine. We are in most of the time and he gets as much attention as he wants.

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