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My Balcony - The Preserver of My Sanity

by Reija Sillanpaa 12 days ago in coping

How My Balcony Got Me Through Lockdowns

My Balcony - The Preserver of My Sanity
Photo by Artur Aleksanian on Unsplash

STAY AT HOME

This is the order from the British Government for the second time this year. And for the second time this year my balcony is going to save me from insanity.

My Park, My Ibiza, My Chill-Out Zone

I live in a small flat close to Central London. The best thing about the flat is the small balcony. When we looked around for a new rental flat, it was the USP of this property. I saw the south-facing balcony, and I was sold.

It’s the first time in 25 years of living in London that I have had my OWN outside space. To me that is luxury. I can be outdoor without having to go somewhere. I can sit out there in my pants if I want to. But little did I know how important the balcony would prove itself not in too distant future.

The rules of the first lockdown, in the UK and elsewhere around the world, were harsh. We could only go outside for essential shopping and for an hour of exercise. Other than that WE HAD TO STAY AT HOME.

God must have a strange sense of humour as weather turned glorious in April when we were all stuck at home. It would have been pure torture had we not had our balcony. It became our park for picnics, our outdoor fine dining restaurant, our late night club (obviously with reasonable volume not to piss off our neighbours) and a morning chill-out lounge.

We spent DAYS on that balcony. We probably would have slept out there if it weren’t too narrow for a double mattress.

Having that outside space was a blessing and vital for our mental health during the tough months of the first lockdown.

Now, once again we are told to stay at home and I look to my balcony to save me again from insanity. The weather is somewhat colder (make that about 30 degrees colder), so picnics and outdoor dining are off the menu and it certainly does not feel like Ibiza. But wrapped up warm, we can still enjoy periods of outdoors, and when the sun comes out, it warms the space nicely.

My Balcony Garden - My Eden

At the height of the summer, our balcony was like a greenhouse with plants everywhere. We grew our own tomatoes, chillies, variety of herbs, I even tried to grow a bonsai apple tree, but that wasn’t a success. I’m determined to try again until I succeed.

I discovered the joy of gardening when I was off work for seven months because of cancer treatments. I was alone for long periods of time and tending to my plants gave me something to do. I would prune them, water them, talk to them.

Yes, talk to them and I’m not ashamed to admit and often I walk discuss many things regarding my treatment and diagnosis with them. Although to discuss is probably not quite the right choice of word since they were rather one-sided conversations.

I found talking to the plants very therapeutic, and often I would tell them feelings and fears that I might not share with my loved ones because I didn’t want to upset them. The plants were always ready to lend a listening ear.

Besides, experienced gardeners say you should talk to your plants. And if their word is not enough to convince you that talking to your plants is completely sane, and in fact beneficial to the plants, the Royal Horticultural Society conducted a study that proved it.

They found that plants responded especially well to female voices, so perhaps that is why my plants grew so happily and abundantly. My cherry tomato plants gave me tomatoes late into October. Probably a thank you for all my soliloquies.

***

I am so grateful to have a balcony. Without it, the lockdowns would have been unbearable.

coping
Reija Sillanpaa
Reija Sillanpaa
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Reija Sillanpaa

Writer, reader, blogger, charity fundraiser. Find me on: https://cyclingforcancer.co.uk/

10% of what I earn on Vocal goes to Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

See all posts by Reija Sillanpaa