My lockdown story

By Vicci Johnson

Rainbow over Steyning

We moved to Steyning from Cheshire on the first day of lockdown. Why Steyning? We wanted to live somewhere with walks from the door, close to the sea and within walking distance from local shops in a vibrant high street. Steyning has it all!

 Facebook and Twitter kept me connected to the small local businesses that I wanted to support. ‘Your Steyning’ is a fabulous resource. But all my pre planning of various clubs I wanted to join – bridge, table tennis, yoga, pilates etc had to be put on hold (apart from excellent online pilates from the wonderful Steyning Physiotherapy)

So what’s engaged and inspired me without the normal social interaction due to Covid?

Walking and swimming: During lockdown we discovered so many wonderful walks from Steyning – the upper and lower horseshoes, Annington and Coombs, Lancing Ring and Steep Down, Cissbury and Chanctobury Ring, Truleigh Hill, Bramber Brooks and castle. I still love the moment I get to the top and can see the sea. Talking of which I was persuaded to swim from Shoreham Beach for the first time on 26th July and have now swum on over 60 days – in the harbour when the sea is rough. I swim with a few women who I have met through friends, the Farmers Market or through friends of friends. We pootle in the water and chat, laugh, and feel graceful in the majestic waves. It has been energising, uplifting and centering for me during Covid. I look forward to being able to take others with me from Steyning once Covid risks allow.            

Greening Steyning: I came at the right time to fill in the survey and in doing so reevaluated how I could do more to reduce my carbon and leave a better world for my grandchildren. I’ve joined the Green Consumer and Biodiversity groups and also various environmental and ethical campaign groups. I’ve joined the Green Party. I want to try and influence Government and big business to make changes to protect our world. We have made the following changes to our own habits

  • Stopped eating meat and most fish
  • Reduced our dairy consumption
  • Stopped using Amazon (apart from our Kindle) and trying to buy things locally where we can
  • Changed to an electric car
  • Started to grow some vegetables and fruit
  • Reduced our waste and minimised our single use plastics –  the refillables stores in Worthing and Pulborough stock almost everything you need from olive oil to oregano; I’ve found a fabulous shampoo bar and natural deodorant in a jar and we are experimenting with various household products that minimise plastic.
  • Shared our vegetable waste with someone with a large garden
  • We have subscribed to The Ethical Consumer and are finding it a great way to support ethical companies. We have changed our bank account, fuel company and changed some brands we buy e.g. of plant milk 

Sussex Wildlife Trust: I’ve discovered a love for butterflies and birds – so delightful to see and so much to learn about their life cycles and migrations and the impact of improved biodiversity on numbers. I’ve planted our small garden with the butterfly and bee collection from Beth Chatto and been delighted to hear the humming of bees, see my first humming bird hawk moth, comma, painted lady and a migrant hawker IN MY GARDEN!  Highlights on the Downs have been an Adonis Blue in the chalk quarry, a Clouded Yellow and walking amongst a flock of house martins on the Rifle Range in October.  Michael Blencowe’s online course on butterflies was just what we needed to introduce us to these amazing insects.

The Steyning Downland scheme: Ive joined the bird and butterfly surveyors group and the conservation volunteers. It’s been fantastic to learn so much from experts like Andrew, Colin, John and Pete.

Local food businesses: For example, the  fantastic Farmers Market, Sussex Produce, Green & Healthy, Gorilla Kitchen, Martina at Yoga Chef Amore, Neha Hampton (Pestle Ltd). Great local food suppliers and producers – all on my doorstep

Steyning High Street: I find I can shop local for almost anything! For example  Jed and Vanessa at the post office who can order you what you need – for the house or garden eg large Kilner jars or a needle threader;   Steyning book shop who can order almost any book for the next day or Green and Healthy who will order vegan foodstuffs for you.

This has been my story but it’s been a shared journey with my husband Robin (apart from the swimming!). A winter of lockdown potentially awaits us but we are looking forward to meeting more Steyning friends virtually – a game of bridge or having a go at a cryptic crossword, a chat over coffee or a beer (we are craft beer lovers) or a quiz (we’re hopeless!). And we are happy to share details of when we are heading for refillables if people want anything picking up. Until then, happy Steyning everyone. We feel very welcome 😀