Stuff that's kept me sane
Life in the time of a pandemic: Stuff that’s kept me sane
Putting my walking boots on
At the beginning of the year I ‘signed up’ for the Walk 1,000 Miles Challenge run by Country Walking magazine. I started well and despite a slight hangover on New Year’s Day I diligently clocked up 5 miles. A couple of friends also picked up the gauntlet and we decided that once a month we would book a weekend away to cover more ground than perhaps we could during the week and get some miles ‘in the bank’. We managed to get one weekend in at Brancaster in Norfolk and then we were in lockdown. Being an organised soul, I had booked us into various hostelries for the next 4 months, all of which were then cancelled.
I don’t mind walking on my own, but I do prefer company so once lockdown had eased it was a relief to reinstate my twice weekly walks with my neighbour. With my other two walking buddies I have been exploring local walks and nature reserves that, shame on us, we didn’t know existed. Have walked more than the 1,000 mile target so far and there’s still 3 months to go.
Getting a dog
This was not an impulse lockdown purchase as I had planned to give my husband a dog for his birthday. It just so happened that immediately after I sprang the surprise on him, we went into lockdown. I’ve never really considered a dog before. In fact, I was pretty disinterested in them. But Hugo has now been with us for 2 months and he pure joy.
Foraging for fruit
There is something very comforting about picking fruit. This summer our village was awash with greengages, apples, damson, blackberries, and figs. I confess I had never eaten a greengage before. Not sure how I missed out on this taste sensation but possibly now top of my list in the fruit department. Neighbours were constantly dropping off produce or inviting me to pick my own. It’s been a veritable banquet of crumbles, flans and salads and the damsons are currently being turned into gin.
Raising money for charity
I’m sure most people reading this will know that at the beginning of April a friend and I started making face masks with all proceeds going to the NHS Charities Together. 4 months later and with a team of Sewing Bee volunteers we had raised £40,000. During lockdown I have never been so busy. If I was not at my PC, I was at the sewing machine. I believe my record was 70 face masks in one day – not sure now how I managed that.
At the beginning of lockdown I pulled out a quilting project that I had been working on last year but never had the time to finish. With many of my clients struggling, as I was, to come to terms with the impact of the pandemic things were a little quiet at Catfish Web Design. The sun was shining, and I found it very therapeutic to sit in my garden hand sewing. Of course, the mask making took over somewhat and the quilting played second fiddle again for a while.
I continued to add to my range of beautiful cushions made from vintage scarves and sold quite a few from my website trashchic.co.uk. I also found time to make some birthday gifts for friends including a stunning birdcage lamp.
Listening to podcasts and audio books
I have always listened to audio books. Way back when ... it was on tape, then CD, then iTunes on an ipod. Now it’s via Audible on my phone.
This spring I discovered the BBC Sounds podcasts. Absolutely fantastic for multi-tasking, stitching away while learning something new. The subjects I covered were so varied: poetry, music, criminology, sonic design, digital mapping, the Magna Carta, cathedral thinking, the susurrations of trees, the history of the mantlepiece, the secret catacombs of Paris, Britain’s curry industry … and so it goes on.
I am a film buff and under normal circumstances would say I watch a fair amount of films. During lockdown I have been exhausting the vaults of Netflix, BFI, Amazon and iPlayer. For the past few years I have run a monthly film club at the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge. It was just 8 of us who would meet up on the first Tuesday of the month to watch whatever was showing, with a postmortem over a glass of wine in the bar afterwards.
I decided to take The First Tuesday Film Club online. I created a Facebook page but was then inundated with requests to join. Suddenly we were 32!
It was fun choosing the films. Everyone was emailed with the details and instructions that they could watch anytime before the first Tuesday but not to leave their review and score out of 10 until the Wednesday. It has also created a little community where members can post recommendations and interact.
Best film the Club watched: Festen. Worst film (pretty unanimous): Couple in a Hole.
All in all lockdown has been manageable for me but it looks like we have another 6 months of all this so I am definitely girding my loins.