Updated: Oct 7


Pat yourself on the back. Our time is now. Let’s reward ourselves.

The vast majority of us have abided by the rules for the best part of 18 months and our prize at the moment is some summer freedom.

We’ve been celebrating being unshackled but let’s also continue to use our common sense in preventing another wave of a pandemic that forced us to retreat, ask questions of ourselves and adapt.

Living with caution in mind is the new normal but count your blessings you’re still living. It’s time to enjoy the gift we have that is life and it’s time also to celebrate and never forget the lives of those we’ve lost along this journey.

We’ve all been affected by having to adjust. Our mental health’s been tested to its limits and anyone who says the pandemic hasn’t on occasion temporarily derailed them is lying.

I need to make more of an effort to be grateful – that’s the one thing I’ve taken from this experience. I’ve also discovered how vital companionship is in my life because I used to say I was alone but now I’m not ashamed to say I’ve also been lonely.

The past is for learning but what counts is the present moment. I’m typing this indoors while outside it’s a glorious summer’s day. I’m itching to get out and make the most of it in case in a flash my freedom is curtailed again.

And embracing our summer and the countless opportunities we have to not take things for granted is what this column is all about.

I’m like a kid in a sweet shop, spoilt with so much choice and anxious I won’t be able to fit it all in. I’m glad travelling abroad isn’t as straightforward as it used to be because it’s made me appreciate the simple pleasures of enjoying everyday experiences that are on my doorstep.

What I’ve already been enjoying and what I still want to do for the remainder of the summer isn’t going to set the world alight but it’s awakened a part in me that’s been in hibernation for too long.

Here are 10 things I won’t take for granted again…

1. Eating inside a restaurant – Wagamamas booked

2. Kissing – I’m working on it…

3. Shaking someone’s hand – any takers for my first?

4. The power of taking a good walk – my best lockdown discovery!

5. A text just to check in – never underestimate how receiving one sets you up for the day

6. Good neighbours – putting the world to rights over the garden fence when the world became an unrecognisable place

7. Enjoying the gym – never again (not for a week at least) will I moan about going

8. Being stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work – my office is calling me. Working from home is overrated

9. Being able to go into someone’s house – no more standing outside in hurricane winds

10. Informal conversation around a water cooler – even if it’s about Love Island I’ll take it

And when it comes to the simple pleasures I’m enjoying and looking forward to, there are a few, because I can.

I won’t be walking past Charters anymore in a rush to be someplace. I’m going to sit on the grass and have a beer, especially now with their outside extension looking so inviting.

Coffee and cake, inside some of my favourite independent coffee shops like The Lightbox Café, Bean Around and The Willow Café is most definitely back on my menu.

Then there’s going for a good walk. Ferry Meadows and Crown Lakes go without saying. And I’ve found a reason to venture around Burghley Park with a new ‘friend’ who’s almost as intriguing as Burghley House itself.

Did someone say music festival? After the return of live music to Central Park at the weekend (August 21/22) it's now time for the last Thorney Charity Live Music Festival on Sunday August 29 at Bedford Hall. This event's been a huge success for the last 25 years packed with Peterborough's musical talent, so don't miss the last one.

An event that’s creating a bit of a buzz is Out Out at The Fleet on September 10. This fundraiser for NHS staff is bringing together some of the city’s top DJs from the last 40 years who played at venues such as Anabellle’s, La Scala and L’Aristo’s.

I’m also finally allowed to join – in the PCRFM studio – the king and queen of radio banter, Keith and Claire, on Saturday mornings. Oh, how I’ve missed the sophisticated scent of Claire’s perfume and Keith’s whiff of Old Spice.

I’m also planning (finally) to go down and support one of Marco Sementa’s charity football matches, wearing the shirt he kindly gave me.

Marco has raised a staggering £43,000 in six years of organising and taking part in games where more than 700 players have donned their boots.

He’s helped more than 20 charities and has now set his sights on raising money for every charity that has an office in Peterborough (he’s done plenty already). Great idea. What a local legend this man is becoming.

And I started my summer as I plan to end it. A gathering of socially starved friends and colleagues on a dream boat with top hospitality from its owner Dave Sanders and his girlfriend Jacie. As much as I’d like to go into detail, I’m afraid what happens on the boat stays on the boat…

So, there you have it folks. Yes, there’s more I plan to do to see out this summer and I’m sure you’ll read all about it right here. But freedom isn’t about what you’re planning to do, how big or exciting it is or who you’re doing it with.

It’s about appreciating you’re able to live it in the first place and embracing being in the moment because as we all know too well; life is very good at throwing us a curveball when we least expect it.


Please don’t ask. I was just happy to be out!


Quite simply the best news I’ve heard so far this year is that Peterborough is going to get a Wendy’s. Trust me, you haven’t tasted a proper American burger if you haven’t had a Wendy’s. Here’s a photo of one I had in NYC. Scoffing this left me with six minutes to board the plane. The signs said it was a 15-minute walk. I made it in time and threw up in the cabin toilet after take-off. It was worth the humiliation.