Andrea McLean column: Adjusting to lockdown and the ‘new normal’

Nick and Andrea with their dog Teddy at home in Ashtead

Nick and Andrea with their dog Teddy at home in Ashtead - Credit: Archant

This month the McLean-Feeney household has been trying to adjust to the ‘new norm’ | With Andrea McLean and Nick Feeney - Photo credit: Andy Newbold

Article originally published in May 2020 issue

You don’t always choose where you live. You may have to move to an area because of your job, relatives who need your support, schools which cater to your children’s needs.

You may just decide to stay where you were born because it has suited you thus far and you see no reason to change. I chose to move to Surrey because I wanted a driveway.

I moved from Wimbledon in South West London. I lived in a street where parking was as rare as hen’s teeth, and I’d regularly have to walk back to my house carrying my supermarket shopping because there were no spaces near my home – not ideal while pregnant with a young son in tow.

I could have got a driveway in many places, but I chose Ashtead because it took me so long to get from one shop to another as everyone was so friendly and talkative – it seemed a world away from London.

During these unprecedented times, popping to my local shops is one of the things I’m missing the most. My flowers from Sweet Lavender. My birthday gifts from Bumbles.

The little places I’d grown to rely on to pop in for gifts for friends and family have thankfully managed to transition online so I can still avail myself of all their lovely things, even if it’s not quite the same as going in person. You can find them at and

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We have all had to adapt as a family to this new way of life, and I’m thankful and grateful that we live where we do because of the people I am blessed to be surrounded by.

We came out in force to celebrate our local neighbours who are NHS workers; not only by clapping, but we all stood in the street and listened to their stories, our hearts breaking to their stories of working on the front line against the virus that has so changed our lives.

I am sure I am not the only person who came back indoors and cried at the hardship they face to keep us safe and the worry they have for their own families every time they come home from work.

To everyone working to keep Surrey going; everyone in the NHS, carers, shop assistants, delivery drivers, council workers – we salute you and are grateful for you.

Live, Learn, Thrive


The good thing about us working from home before lockdown is that we are used to being here. There are just more people to consider now and our coffee breaks take an hour rather than the usual 15 minutes!

There have been many positives to the experience, the main one being spending time with the teens who would normally be busy anywhere else but with us.

We have had FaceTime dinners with friends and family and the time to tackle the garden with everyone in the household involved – it’s been great working alongside them, seeing them get the satisfaction of a real job well done with no phone in sight.


Nick has been using this time to teach himself Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) via an online course. NLP looks at how we communicate; the link between neurological processes, language and behaviour.

He’s really delving into how and why our brain works the way it does; why we do and say the things we do, and how he can improve his personal development and communication techniques.

So far he hasn’t managed to talk me into doing anything I don’t want to do; I’m not entirely convinced that isn’t the reason he’s looking into it, he is extremely keen that I start enjoying golf as much as he does!


We’ve set ourselves the challenge of doing a form of fitness we’ve never done before. So our weekday routine involves getting up at 6:30am, when I head to the living room to do an aerobics class (I have no sense of timing so I’m very thankful that I am on my own).

Nick is trying to master a handstand from The Crow yoga position (I don’t know why either). He practices in our bedroom while I am leaping around downstairs and I regularly hear the thud of him falling over above the sound of an excitable lycra-clad woman telling me to grape-vine.

How is this thriving? Well, I certainly feel good when it’s all over!