When the covid lockdown hit two years ago, it was suddenly a time where people, desperate for a bit of social contact, came out and chatted on their doorsteps after communal events like the weekly ‘clap for carers’.
As the lockdowns came and went, that regular get-together spirit faded everywhere – except in one unique place in Bristol: Eastwood Road in Broomhill.
For while the rest of us have gone back to our own lives, albeit one where we now know more of our neighbours after the shared experience of lockdowns, the families of Eastwood Road are still meeting up every week – just like at the start of lockdown.
They did ‘clap for carers’ every week in the early days of the pandemic, like everyone else, but many may not remember there were other suggestions for communal activities done from your doorstep back then too, that didn’t quite take off.
One of them that did the rounds on social media as a suggestion, back in late March 2020, was that every street, at a set time one Tuesday evening, should get someone to blast out S Club 7’s school disco anthem Reach for the Stars, and all the kids in the street should go out and sing their hearts out, putting on a show for everyone else watching. It never quite happened, but in Eastwood Road it started something that has evolved and expanded and continues to this day.
Local resident Melanie Masters explained: “It didn’t happen, so a couple of neighbours decided that the children weren’t to be disappointed. So they stood in their gardens singing at the tops of their voices. This was soon followed by a few adults standing by their front gates with a glass of wine or beer and shouting across to each other.”
That was a scenario being played out in streets across Bristol and Britain, but at Eastwood Road it has stuck.
“Other neighbours started to join in after that, aged from eight to 80, and it became a regular ‘Tuesday Club’, where the distancing required followed the current rules at each stage,” added Melanie. The Tuesday Club became a weekly social date for the people living in this bit of Eastwood Road, the furthest north east of the residential roads that form the Broomhill estate, at the top of the hill above the beautiful Avon Valley below.
Many of the Tuesday Clubs reflected what was going on at the time – VE Day was enthusiastically embraced, and it became the evening when parents gathered to support each other while the children got to stay out a bit later and play.
“We were able to socially distantly celebrate VE day, where the Last Post, Vera Lynn and other wartime music was blasted from someone’s open bedroom window, and cream teas were devoured in their front gardens,” said Melanie.
“One neighbour even provided specialist lighting so that the group of houses were all lit up in red, white and blue,” she added. As the nation opened up in that summer of 2020, the Tuesday Club continued, only taking a break in December, January and February last year during the second lockdown. Since then, last summer and throughout this winter, they’ve been out there come rain, snow or sunshine.
They’ve had pizza deliveries from a local pizza maker in Eastwood Road, and several visits from I Scream Tacos, a mobile Mexican street food vendor,”
“We’ve got supplies for each other, helped each other out with tools and materials for DIY projects, and more,” explained Melanie. “The past two years have been tough for most of us. The onslaught of Covid disrupted our lives, and left many of us isolated and suffering loneliness, anxiety and depression.
“One small good thing that seems to have come out of it is that we could see communities pulling together, helping each other out and doing what they could to keep our neighbours safe and as happy as possible.
“Now restrictions have eased, it has become an even more social event, with people bringing out food nibbles to share, and still have time for a couple of hours chatting and laughter, and are still on hand to help out where needed,” she said, adding: “Some clouds do indeed have silver linings!”