A former nurse from Aberystwyth said she “wept” after leaving her home for the first time in nearly three months.

Grandmother Penny Murfin, 75, said she made the decision to shield - or stay at home at all times - since the start of the lockdown.

The Welsh Government posted more than 120,000 letters to people in Wales who were in high risk categories asking them to stay at home to avoid contracting coronavirus. Penny said she did not receive a letter from the government but decided to shield anyway because she has a heart condition and considers herself to be ‘at risk’.

“I get very breathless so if I caught Covid-19 I’d be a goner”.

Penny says she's lucky to have a small garden at her home. Credit: Penny Murfin

Penny, who lives on her own, said: “It’s been a long 11 weeks.

“I’m very lucky I have a lovely small house and a little garden which is my oasis but I’ve missed contact with family and friends and I’ve missed driving my car.”

Yesterday, Penny took her first trip out of her house to South Beach in Aberystwyth. She said she had been planning the journey and took a flask of coffee with her.

Penny has been walking along the promenade near her home. Credit: Penny Murfin

“I took in the sea air and I wept. It was so lovely to see it again.”

Penny said she does not intend to do more than drive to the promenade for the moment. She said, “it’s too soon, coronavirus isn’t over yet.

“I’m taking in one step at a time, taking it very slowly. The next thing I do will be to meet a friend from a social distance on the promenade.”

Penny’s relatives live too far away to visit at the moment. Prior to lockdown, she would meet her son and his family for lunch or brunch and would frequently take the train to visit her relatives in London. She said her daughter, son-in-law and 17-year-old grandson had Covid-19, but they have all recovered now.

Penny said she has missed going to her Welsh classes and meeting friends for coffee and having hugs.

“Most of all, I miss my grandchildren and my family terribly.”

Penny has been using Facetime to speak to her relatives three times a week and taken part in a quiz on Zoom but she said it is not quite the same as face-to-face contact. Despite this, her relatives video-call her from their gardens so she said it feels as though she is there with them.

As a former nurse, Penny said the healthcare sector has been amazing in the way it has been coping with the pandemic.

Penny describes herself as a “tech-savvy 75-year-old”. While self-isolating, she has taught herself to crochet from watching YouTube tutorials and has even made a blanket for her granddaughter. Penny has found ways of adapting to being stuck at home.

“I have a milkman now. I spray the bottle with Dettol when it gets delivered, then I wash my hands.”

She said she has had brilliant support from the local community, who set up a group to help those who are isolating. Penny is also thankful to Dyfed Powys Police for keeping people out of the area.

“I’m not anti-visitors at all - but come later.”

Despite the difficulties Penny has had with staying inside for more than two months, she said she still feels “very fortunate” because she has been able to tend to her garden and enjoy the view.

“I’ve wept at lots of things but I don’t like to think too far ahead. I’m counting my blessings.”

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