Photographic competition winner- Exmoor ponies

Photographic competition winner and FLexercise teacher, Lucinda Rowles gives us an insight into her lockdown life and explains the background to her photo.
Until recently I taught FLexercise in Oxford. In December, my husband Nigel retired and we decided to relocate to Devon. It was an extremely hard decision to make. I had to give up my classes and there were lots of tears and heartache. My class members had become great friends as well, and I miss them very much.
We moved in January and are so grateful that we found our dream house rather than renting, which was our original intention.  Lockdown has meant I have been unable to start any FL classes up which has been very disappointing. I couldn’t even research and visit any potential halls either due to the pandemic.
From a distance, I also had to ensure the local deli community shop in my old village was able to continue putting food on the table. The welfare of the staff has been a constant concern.
We all know moving is stressful, but factor in Covid and wow, that’s a challenge.  We’ve had to put making the house into a home on hold for now. With the upsurge in DIY, trying to order materials to make shelving, buy new furniture and paint has proved very difficult. So, we still have loads of unopened boxes stored in the study. It’s not a big problem though – we’ve got plenty of time to sort them out!
So, how did we keep ourselves occupied? Mostly through daily exercise exploring local walks and woodlands, digging vegetable plots, gardening and tending sheep. I should add that the sheep are not ours, they belong to the farmer next door. I’m here to tell you that moving sheep from our paddock to another for shearing was exciting. We had a few escapees so had to run after them. But of course, my FLexercise training has kept me fit enough to chase woolly deserters. And I kept the neighbours entertained. They seemed to enjoy the site of my frantic waving and climbing banks to retrieve the ewes!
At times the novelty of being home 24/7 wore off and there were days when like others I struggled with the long days! Although there is masses to do in our paddock and garden, some days the body was saying I need a break, be kind and be gentle with me!!!!
So I found ways to cope, adapt and fill time by having a good sort out of items I had hoarded. I baked, researched a wider variety of vegetables to grow and compiled weekly quizzes for our local community. The quizzes were the highlight of the week as was a great way to get to meet people in our village and learn about our neighbourhood, albeit via zoom. More importantly, it also meant we knew which day it was, as it seemed most days rolled into one another! Recently, we managed to meet up for a socially distanced BBQ which was our first social since moving in.  Gosh, it felt very strange getting dressed up and putting makeup on again!
One of the great things about living where we do is the constantly changing beauty of the landscape. The vistas are ripe for a photographic competition submission. The problem is, choosing which photograph to enter.
My entry for the FLexercise photographic competition is of Exmoor ponies as they were being let out into the wild for the first time. Don’t they look excited?
I am so proud that Flexercise acted promptly after lockdown. I have really enjoyed the live sessions via Facebook. Did you think it would all be over quickly? I certainly hoped so, but here we are, six months on, still doing virtual classes. We are desperately hoping to return to face to face work in the not to distance future. There will be many hurdles and new norms with this but I for one have definitely missed the camaraderie and exercising benefits of group work and face to face classes.  I can’t wait to start up a new class hopefully in Tiverton, Devon, or near vicinity.
Finally, what I have learned during lockdown?  I’ve had time to assess life. Spending time in this change of scenery and adapting to new measures has had a positive effect. All we need is the simple pleasures in life and that all our family and friends look after each other. Remember the Exmoor ponies – be free but be safe.