Your say / coronavirus

‘You hear a lot as a shop owner and it has left me feeling positive about the future’

By nicola bartlett, Monday Jun 29, 2020

Five years ago, I was at Glastonbury Festival enjoying the music, sunshine, rain and all the quirkiness of the event with my sister and a lifelong friend of ours, Emily.

I’ve been enjoying some of the coverage this weekend and thinking about my time there.

We’ve all been reflecting a lot during lockdown about how life has changed, where we are, what we have, what we’d like to do next.

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You know lots about the shop so I’m rewinding five years to tell you a little about my life back then…

I had just been appointed a job in the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, as a ward clerk line manager and I supported the clinical site team on a daily basis, assisting them with the operational day-to-day running of the hospital.

Bristol Children’s Hospital looks as if it has quidditch goalposts outside – photo: Martin Booth

I met some very inspiring people during my time there and have been wondering how they have been getting on during recent times.

Ultimately, the job and hospital environment wasn’t for me, but I am pleased to have experienced some years working there because I gained a huge understanding in what works well, and what doesn’t, in the NHS.

In recent times, we’ve all been thinking about how the NHS is at the heart of our country. It seems we’re thinking more and more about how we’re all connected.

Before starting the job, I walked over 100km of the Camino de Santiago in north western Spain.

Some days my knees ached, some days I walked with strangers, some days I walked alone. I ate well every day. I met people from all over the world.

We were all following the same path but having completely different journeys and experiences.

Five years ago, Nicola trekked through the north west of Spain. Photo: Nicola Bartlett

I feel lockdown has been similar in that respect. All of our lives have changed. We’ve all experienced this differently.

We’ve all been forced to slow down and think about what’s important to us, and what are our values. Do we want to go back to normal while we come out of lockdown?

I hope that small, creative businesses like mine will be a large part in paving a way for the “new normal” we continue to hear about as we begin to re-open.

Like many small businesses, I recently opened the doors again with equal excitement and nervousness about welcoming customers back into the shop.

The first two weeks have been an absolute joy and I am so very thankful to everyone who popped in.

Eclectic Gift Shop has recently reopened its doors. Photo: Eclectic Gift Shop

We’ve laughed, we’ve shared news. There have been so many changes in the last three months; births and deaths; job losses and new opportunities. We’ve been spending more time with some of our loved ones but have had less time with others.

You hear an awful lot as a shop owner on a high street and it’s left me feeling positive about the future.

I’m not so sure we’ve been “socially distant” during this time. Yes, we’ve been physically apart, but in many ways, we’ve been socially closer than ever.

Nicola Bartlett is co-owner of Eclectic Gift Shop in Hanham

Main photo: Visa

Read more: ‘The local high street has proved itself during the pandemic’

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