Marie Louise McConville: Finding the silver linings in the Covid lockdown

It looks like Covid-19 restrictions are here to stay for a while yet – and I for one am not feeling too annoyed.

Eight months into this pandemic, I don’t think life is ever going to return to `normal’ and without becoming a target for a backlash, I am trying to make the best of what is a challenging situation.

Without playing down the seriousness of coronavirus and the awful damage it has caused, the lives it has stolen, the effects it has had on families and people’s jobs, I have found some silver linings – and I’m not the only one.

I don’t usually have much in common with sports people – it’s not really my thing – but this week, I found myself in the same boat so to speak as cricket legend, Freddie Flintoff.

The former England cricket captain has revealed how he has found some positives amid the lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions, including finding it “really nice” being able to spend some time at home with his ten-month-old son, Preston.

The father-of-four said when his older children were younger he was not able to be around because of his cricket career.

The 42-year-old said he was “here, there and everywhere” during those times but because of the lockdown, he had to spend a lot of time in the house.

He said: “The thing about lockdown is, obviously, under different circumstances you could probably say you quite enjoyed it.

‘I got time with him and the family which I’d never get,” he said.

I feel exactly the same Freddie.

As much as this lockdown has been a challenge for us all, there have definitely been some positives.

Before coronavirus arrived, I commuted to work so I was up and out early.

I only had time to dress the kids before Darren took them to creche for breakfast.

By the time I got home, Darren and the kids had eaten already and were getting organised for bed and while I knew I was missing out on stuff, I didn’t realise until lockdown just how much.

Now, because I am working from home, we get to have breakfast together and I get to take them to school.

This means I get the extra time in the car with them and at the school, I actually get to meet their teachers. I also get to collect them and hear them excitedly chat about their day and I then get to help them with their homework.

Most importantly, we have dinner together every night and after that, there’s less rushing and faffing and lots of time for cuddles and snuggles before bed.

My work/home balance has never been better and my mind is so much clearer and mentally, I feel healthier.

I know I am lucky and many others are finding the pandemic really hard to cope with, but in this moment I feel fortunate to be able to work from home and spend more time with my kids.


Life has become a bit dull these dark evenings but I have found the most wonderful new show on TV and it really makes me laugh.

Ghosts on BBC One tells the story of a cash-strapped young couple who inherit a rickety country mansion, only to find it teeming with needy ghosts including Lady Fanny Button, Julian Fawcett MP, The Captain, Kitty and Robin the Cave man.

There are some really funny gags and sketches and the writing is just brilliant.

The ghosts, who each died during different periods, are just so friendly and endearing.

Go on, get watching.


With Halloween just weeks away, it’s time to plan some socially-distanced spooktacular fun, so how do you fancy winning some high-flying entertainment?

Co Down kite company, Go Fly Your Kite, which is based near Comber, is currently running virtual Halloween, STEM and art kite workshops for schools and youth organisations throughout Ireland and Britain.

Pre-lockdown, the family business had welcomed more than 25,000 participants to its kite workshops at schools, family fun days, science festivals and youth organisations.

The company has now adapted its business to run their workshops virtually.

The business runs kite workshops for children and adults from four years upwards and its concept is trace, colour, construct and fly via virtual platforms.

The company also sells kite kit boxes and in the run up to Halloween, has created a spooky Kites and Lights box for you to enjoy in the your garden or local park.

The £30 box includes three blank kites, three Halloween traceable graphics, permanent markers, three LED Halloween kite badges to attach to your kite, and rods and handles, in a cool kite box.

Further details about Go Fly Your Kite are available online at

I have five Kites and Lights Boxes to give away.

If you fancy winning a box, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question – to competitions@

Closing date is 12 noon on Tuesday, October 13, 2020

(Q) What date is Halloween?

Normal Irish News rules apply

The winners of The Portrait competition are Christine McGrath, from Coalisland, Angela McCallin, from Belfast, Michelle Donaghy, from Omagh, Brigeen Logan, from Cushendall, and Rita Doherty, from Ballymena

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