Life may not be the same but things are starting to get back to some normality, says Catherine Scott

It is a week of firsts and lasts in our house.

Leeds Festival is a rite of passage for many teenagers and they are just hoping it will be on this year

I have been inside a restaurant for the first time this year. And boy did it feel good. Not just to have someone cooking for you, but also being able to eat it inside without the need for multiple coats, blankets and hot water bottles. And with food that stayed hot until you’d finished it.

Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy it when hospitality could open up outside, but I have to say the novelty did quickly wear off as the weather deteriorated. To sit inside Le Cochon Aveugle in York as they got their staff ready for real guests it is something I will try not to take for granted again.

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Another first for 2021 was interviewing someone face to face in real life rather than via a screen. For most of the past year, and definitely for the last five months I have been conducting interviews either over the phone of via zoom. It’s just not the same as seeing someone in their own home or place of work.

It felt so liberating to actually meet some one and be able to look them in the eye and ask them about themselves without the worry of a technical hitch getting in the way or a teenager wandering in looking for food.

And while I have been enjoying getting things back to some sort of normality it is a time of change and ‘lasts’ for my children.

My eldest sat her last A-level that wasn’t an A-level this week and will finish school forever tomorrow. It hasn’t been the sixth form experience she had expected by any means but that as just made her hungrier than ever for the next stage as she starts to put her own stamp on the world. Exciting times for her, emotional ones for me.

As she bids farewell to high school with none of the normal pomp and ceremony – the normal prom has been converted to a low key barbecue. The post A-level holiday abroad with her pals has been cancelled as have so many other rights of passage over the last year. But she is ready for the adventures ahead and we all just hope and pray that she will be able to have the university experience denied to this year’s freshers due to the pandemic.

My youngest also has her fair share of firsts and lasts. She did her first shift as a waitress in a local pub and she has her last GCSE assessment today. Again there will be no glamorous prom to see their way to the next stage of their learning, but they are hoping that their post exam rite of passage of Leeds Fest will be allowed to go ahead and that, come the start of the next academic year, things will be more normal, masks and constant Covid testing will become a distant memory and they will start to enjoy their last years of school. Fingers crossed