Lockdown life has become a bit like walking on a treadmill; we carry on through the monotony, barely noticing the passing of one moment to the next. Yet despite the normalisation of this way of living – and the way days seem to drag – an entire year has somehow also passed. It still doesn’t quite feel real.
Our camera rolls, however, can confirm the past 12 months did indeed happen. Instead of the usual snaps of nights out, large family gatherings, concerts, weddings and events, they paint an intimate picture of our personal experiences of the pandemic – plus those
empty supermarket shelves we’ll never forget.
From moments of loneliness and heartache, to the sweet relief of laughter and connection, we asked readers to share one photo from the past year that they’ll always remember. Here are their stories.
March 2020 ‘People won’t lower their tea standards’ "This was taken March 14 last year, when everyone was panic-buying and every shelf was empty. We found it really funny that every single box of tea was gone, except the Tetley which was untouched. And I'm not a tea drinker so don’t know what's good tea, but it seems it's not Tetley. I kind of love that even in panic-buying situations, people won't lower their tea standards." – Sarah Williamson, 26, Tamworth, Staffordshire. ‘Everything became very real for us’ "This photo was taken on March 18 and in the picture are my two girls Skye, six, and Ava, three at the time, with my husband James looking out at my sister Rachael. Ava had a 40 degree temperature so we were self-isolating. We were scared and they were so sad and confused why they couldn’t touch their auntie. This is the first moment everything became very real for us and that’s why I will remember this picture." – Hannah Hardwell, 33, Clevedon, Somerset ‘The deserted first Monday in lockdown’ "I took this photo on the Monday after lockdown was announced on the Friday. I work at HMP Preston and always go for a lunchtime walk in the city centre. It was the eeriness and silence that struck me. This area would have been busy with many people walking around and sat in the sun a few days before. I felt sort of privileged to be able to see it, as so many others were locked down in their homes. The sun and warmth almost masked the sadness though." – Steve Worswick, 49, Preston. ‘Making lots of noise for the NHS’ "This was taken at the beginning of lockdown when we used to come out and clap for the NHS. We started off clapping, banging saucepans and generally making as much noise as we could. Then our neighbour brought his trumpet out so my girls brought out the ukulele and guitar. It was such an emotional time hearing people nearby cheering and clapping, but also we loved hearing what song our lovely neighbour was going to play us that week." – Kelly Newton, 49, Croydon, London. ‘I moved back in with my parents’ "I left Edinburgh the day before lockdown was announced to move back with my parents in their village further north. This was me on March 31, trying to get some peace for a work conference call, it was freezing! There were five of us staying there, my parents, brother, his girlfriend and me – so outside on the back steps was the best I could do. I remember being stressed about figuring out how to work well remotely, relieved to be out of the city, and also a bit giggly about how ridiculous and surreal the whole thing was. It didn’t quite seem real at the time, everything changed so fast." – Megan Rhys, 27, Edinburgh. April 2020 ‘Our driveway Easter egg hunt’ "We decided to hold a driveway egg hunt for a small group of us to try and make Easter fun for the kids. Eggs were left in driveways and we had a rota to ensure we didn’t bump into each other. The kids loved it, but lockdown was already starting to get to us so most of the mums went home and had a bit of a cry." – Rachel Beech, 40, London. ‘I thought it was temporary’ "This photo was taken on 21st April 2020 in our conservatory, we’d been doing this NHS poster as a homeschool craft project. Me and my then five-year-old were very proud of our artistic efforts for the NHS. For me this says early lockdown: relaxed vibes, optimism, supporting a bigger cause, warm days, spending quality and fun time with my daughter, lockdown hair and a bit of a suntan because it was so sunny. I felt well, and confident it was a temporary moment in time in the scheme of a lifetime." – Kate Morris Bates, 45, Flintshire, North Wales ‘Celebrating Vaisakhi at the allotment’ "My dad is The Skipping Sikh [who encouraged the world to stay active during lockdown and raised more than £14,000 for the NHS]. We spent time at the allotment during Vaisakhi skipping, and had this picture taken by photographer Sian Tyrell who wanted to say thank you for everything my dad has done. We shared our crops with Sian, as Sikhs we like to give back. We made food here, we watered the crops and also meditated. We felt really sad that we couldn't celebrate with the community and it felt strange not being able to go to the Gurdwara as every Vaisakhi we always go. But I will never forget this picture as it's special, my parents are older and to spend the time with them in lockdown and for Vaisakhi is something to cherish." – Minreet Kaur, 40, Harlington, Middlesex. May 2020 ‘Meeting my baby wearing a mask’ "This photo was taken in May 2020, minutes after my son was born. I remember a surge of relief seeing him here, alive, and the desperation to have him in my arms. I wasn't able to hold him, so he was held next to me so I could kiss his head. The relief, joy and love juxtaposed beside the mask makes the image unforgettable. A timeless photo of mother and baby, dated by the presence of PPE. " – Anna Malnutt, 30, Derbyshire. ‘In that moment London was ours’ "This photo was taken on the May 9 2020. We had decided, on what should have been our wedding day, to dust off the bikes and do something different for our one trip outside for exercise. We headed to Victoria and cycled past Buckingham Palace, because normally you would avoid it due to all the tourists. It was so very strange to see the palace and the mall empty. Eerie, but exciting! This is one of my favourite lockdown memories as in that moment, London was ours. It was liberating to have such freedom in a city normally so full of cars and people." – Rebecca Caldicott, 35, Clapham Junction, London. ‘Watching their grandparents walk away’ "This picture sums up the year to me and makes me feel very emotional. My dad turned 65 the day before my daughter turned two and we were finally allowed to meet outdoors. We met them in a field near where we live and this is my daughters watching their grandma and grandad walk away." – Jess Collins, 37, Cornwall. ‘My cat came to comfort me’ "I went into lockdown earlier than others due to being exposed to Covid on a plane in March 2020. By this point, I’d been completely alone for months. I was trapped apart from my boyfriend in America due to travel bans – with no idea when we’d see each other again. It was all getting a bit much and I went to have a cry. My cat came to comfort me." – Rosanna Stevens, 36, from London. ‘I was able to forget’ "This was taken during an evening walk in May 2020 at High Beeches Gardens in Sussex. The garden is usually open to the public but was closed at that time. It looked so beautiful, I felt sad no-one else was able to appreciate it, but realised how lucky I was to have it all to myself. I will always remember it because in that moment, the garden was looking so magical and tranquil, I was able to forget about the difficulties of lockdown and just enjoy it." – Emily Bray, 29, West Sussex. July 2020 ‘We rescued this kitten, and she ended up saving us instead’ “This photo sums up summer 2020 for me: seemingly endless hot sticky nights, and long hours spent with my daughter Orla, and the tiny feral kitten we saved from a nearby farm. We named her Nettle for her prickly disposition, but as this photo shows, she quickly softened up, and her affection and ridiculous antics have rescued all of us in return." – Sara Tasker, 37, West Yorkshire. ‘Video calls with Grandad’ "This is a picture of my Grandad on his 87th birthday in July 2020. Having video calls with him throughout this past year has been such a comfort for me, and looking back on this photo and seeing him so cheerful always makes me smile. It also features his adorably hilarious DIY haircut! Usually his camera is pointed towards the ceiling (or if I’m lucky, I’ll get a pair of eyebrows), so it’s also quite a novelty to see his face properly." – Natalie Keeler, 28, South London. August 2020 ‘I was told to say goodbye’ "My mum, a multiple sclerosis sufferer, caught sepsis in August. I was told to say goodbye to her at the hospital, that she wouldn’t be given an ICU bed and she would unlikely make it. This is two weeks later when we were reunited to take her home – she lived." – Jill Greenwood, 41, Manchester. ‘Such a grateful moment’ "In this photo, we've just walked out of my local church after our wedding ceremony on August 5 2020. We originally planned a ceremony with 200 guests, but the venue closed down completely due to the detrimental effects of the pandemic. In that exact moment in the photo, I felt so much happiness as well as a huge amount of gratitude because despite all odds, in the midst of a global pandemic, we were able to get married. Such a grateful moment." – La Braya Richmond, 26, London. October 2020 ‘Cousins meeting after months’ "On October 17, after not seeing each other for several months, cousins Rafe and Benjamin (both two) met for a woodland walk. Having barely seen each other last year, we wondered how they would act, so it was lovely to see them running around together totally unaware of the pandemic!" – Jennifer Edmondson, 34, York. ‘I had to race at 4am in a studio flat’ "My most memorable photo is from when I won silver in rowing at the National Australian Championships – racing remotely on a rowing machine using a computer on October 25 2020. The lockdown meant the competition became online. I had to weigh in at 2am. Then I had to race at 4am in a studio flat, disturbing my partner. It was quite the nightmare, but worth getting the medal. Indoor rowing has really helped my mental health during a difficult year to stay focused and fit." – Johnny Luk, 30, London. December 2020 ‘When Christmas was cancelled...’ "When Christmas was cancelled, my sister did a six-hour round trip to collect the gifts for my nephews from our mum’s house, dad’s house and mine. Mum and dad have been divorced for years but both did identical care packages of the food they got in for Christmas for me and my sister. As we sat in my hallway and divvied up Christmas pudding and sausage meat between us, we were both overcome with such love and sense of family. Even though we knew we couldn’t be together over the festive period, we knew we were one family. United by mince pies and a pack of crab sticks!" – Claire Wigington, 40, Brentwood, Essex. ‘We brought Santa’s grotto to us’ "When we couldn’t go to see Santa at his grotto for Christmas 2020, we brought Santa's grotto to us. Getting to see Father Christmas when you are three is a big deal, and because of the restrictions of lockdown, we were limited in what we could do and didn’t want to miss out on the memory making. So our neighbour came up with the idea of a grotto outside the house. Ordinary I wouldn’t dress up and be Santa’s chief elf but lockdown aside, this might just become our annual Christmas tradition! I felt like we were really making the kind of memories that will last a lifetime." – Catherine Asta, 41, Yorkshire. January 2021 ‘My boy wearing his school jumper voluntarily’ "Homeschooling will be my enduring memory of lockdown: wrestling with the printer, slogging through fractions, and helping them manage their frustration and loss. I took this photo in January, when my seven-year-old put his school jumper on to read ‘because it made it feel more like school’. Afterwards, I had to go upstairs and cry. There was so much we couldn’t make right for them, but they did their best with what we had." – Rachel Jeffcoat, 36, Reading. ‘My heart swelled with pride’ "I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was an adult, so it's always been important to me that my children learn this invaluable skill at a young change. Before the pandemic, we were so busy, teaching the kids got put on the back burner, but with the extra time, we seized the opportunity to teach them. My heart swelled with pride when I saw the kids pedalling on their own. We started off in the garden and then took them to the local park. When we took this picture at the beginning of the year, my son was super pleased with himself as he had done multiple laps of the field on his own, my daughter on the other hand, while still wobbly, was super excited to be out and given that space to try and try again." – Yvadney Davis, 39, London. February 2021 ‘Trying to juggle’ "Work from home, they said. It will be fine, they said. Clearly trying to juggle – but we are managing, as a team.This little one is a pandemic baby. She was born in September. I was attending a meeting trying to do a little work from home, however Rosie had other ideas. I tried to schedule it when she was due a nap, but of course that particular day she decided she did not want to nap, she wanted to be held so she could blow raspberries on my face. Luckily everyone is super understanding, at the time I was so embarrassed and worried about being unprofessional, but now looking back I can't help but chuckle." – Zoe Burnett, 28, Lincoln. March 2021 ‘The end of this is approaching’ "I got the vaccine on Tuesday March 16, after getting a surprise text from the hospital on the Monday night. I didn’t think about it too much, but walking up to St Thomas’s on the Tuesday morning, a genuine wave of relief and excitement came over me. It was the first time in ages that I really felt like the end of this is approaching. I can now tangibly feel it." – Martin Bailey, 32, Kennington, London.