THIS week's Councillor Column is written by Helensburgh Central Cllr Aileen Morton (Liberal Democrat).

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IT’S July, which means that the council is in recess with no formal meetings taking place.

July is also the month where I normally try and do a “digital detox” – coming off social media completely for at least two weeks and trying to avoid doing much scrolling in general.

This year I’ve struggled with doing that though. Which is perhaps not surprising when we are still recovering from a pandemic that kept us all at home for months at a time!

While restrictions are in place, meeting up with friends and family in person is more complicated and difficult to organise so platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow me to keep in touch with what’s going on in everyone’s lives.

Even more so than recent years, social media is also a requirement for checking restaurant menus, shop opening times and access arrangements to visitor attractions.

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Every business and organisation is having to adapt to changing rules and the impact of isolation requirements on their staff, which means that what they offer can change from week to week.

And I’m not sure any of this is going to change any time soon. Even in level zero, I can’t meet with my four oldest friends as a group indoors and the idea of organising to see extended family in larger groups still seems very far away (I have 25 first cousins, all of whom are now their own “household”). So social media helps to keep all of those relationships going, and brings other opportunities too.

For example, I have decided to get my garden properly under control this year. I’m going to be paying someone who knows what they are doing to put down a new patio, but all of the other work is being done by me or my husband.

An online gardening group has been a source of enormous practical advice – which feels more realistic and achievable when it’s just ordinary folk in Scottish gardens rather than magazine-style perfection.

I’m also walking the John Muir Way with someone I met through a walking group – we’ve made it to South Queensferry so far!

So while I am trying to spend more time outside and away from any negative impact of the online world, this year I’m giving myself a break and accepting that actually there’s lots of positives to looking at a screen.

Whether in person or via the internet I hope you’re all finding a way to enjoy the summer.

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