What I did during my Lockdown

When junior school children go back to the classroom in September (assuming that they do) I have no doubt that up and down the country teachers will be getting their pupils to write the “what I did during my lockdown” essay. This being a variant on the “what I did on my holidays” essay which always seemed to me to be an easy way to ease both pupils and teachers back into the new school year.

Anyway I thought that I would get in early with my essay and hand it in to teacher before the start of the new term! What a swot!

I’ve been pretty lucky during the lockdown period in that I have remained fully employed whereas I know others have not. So while I haven’t had huge swathes of free time during the day I have had more time in the evenings and weekends as we’ve had nowhere to go.

So how to fill this extra time? Well these are the (probably too many) things that I have done over the last three months.

Baking

I’ve always enjoyed cooking but baking was something that I’d never really attempted before. For some reason we had a craving for scones, probably because we had National Trust withdrawal symptoms, so that seemed a good place to start.

The first issue was that I wasn’t the first person to decide baking was a great idea during lockdown and so finding flour was a challenge. When I did it was fortunate that the first thing I had decided to make, scones, were yeast free as that too was as rare as rocking horse poo.

The scones were judged to be a great success which buoyed me to try something else. We had ordered some Indian food from the excellent local restaurant in Reading, Clays, and I decided to make some rotis to go with that. Again these were yeast free and judged to be a success.

I also tried yeast free pizza dough but that was less successful but some kindly friend found some yeast and posted it to us allowing me to try again and this time they were great.

Next stop a Victoria sponge cake!

Scones, rotis, pizzas and a clue to the next baking project…

Gardening

I must admit that if you’d told me 20 years ago that I’d have derived any pleasure from gardening I’d have laughed but here I am during lockdown scarifying the back lawn!

To be fair this isn’t exclusively a lockdown event but it certainly has intensified and accelerated while I have more time at home. Projects that I’d put off have finally got done and the reward is a really great outside space which we’ve made much use of.

We are really lucky to have the garden that we do and it was a perfect place for us to spill over into when we had my son, his wife and daughter living with us. During the ten weeks that they were with us the weather was good and so our one year old granddaughter could safely play outside.

Now that they have returned home I have been able to put down weed and feed on the lawn and sort out the borders. I don’t think that the grass is ever going to look like a bowling green but to be more grass than moss would be a good start.

Musicing

To be fair I have always been a great music lover and I have continued to listen to music just as much during lockdown as I did previously. What has changed is how I have consumed that music.

One of the ways we haven’t been able to enjoy music is live. We’d had a number of concerts booked this year almost all of which have now been pushed back a year. A number of my favourite artists have tried to compensate for this loss by doing things online. Crowded House, who we were due to see at the Roundhouse round about now, have been putting out ‘at house’ versions of some of their classics. Marillion have done similar.

Duke Special has gone one step further and has been playing each one of his releases live just him on the piano every other Friday night. On the alternative Fridays he has been in conversation with the producer of said release discussing the background to it. These are done over zoom and which isn’t the same experience for either party. At the end of each song Peter gets no feedback from his audience which he seems to find unnerving to begin with. They have been very enjoyable for us and a good way to give back as they live sessions are paid, albeit a paltry £5.

Tim Burgess of the Charlatans has apparently been running his #TimsTwitterListeningParty event for a number of years but during lockdown they seem to have really taken off. Every night everyone plays the same record at the same time while discussing it online on Twitter. There is usually some involvement from someone associated with the record too so Steve Wilson has done a couple for his releases and Porcupine Tree and Kevin Godly has done a couple of 10CC records.

I’ve been able to tie the listening parties in with another of my current obsessions – collecting vinyl. I had a reasonable record collection back in the day which I gave away to Oxfam years ago when we ran out of room and it was either the records went or the children (I know, I know!). I have been slowly building back up that collecting but that has accelerated during lockdown. With charity shops shut it’s been a job for eBay and I’ve picked up some really nice items.

It’s not all been about listening though I’ve been attempting to make music too! Before the lockdown I had been going to guitar lessons with a local tutor but once lockdown came that had to stop. Instead I have been using the Justin Guitar app which I have found works well for me as I can go at my pace, which is sloooow. On the basis of work to date I don’t think that Clapton has anything to fear!

Exercising

At the start of lockdown the rules were pretty restrictive on what you could do exercise wise. I’m not a runner or cyclist but I do like to take time away from the desk and have a walk. I quickly got into a routine where I would take the granddaughter out for a push in the pram every day around 10am. She would sleep and I would get my exercise. It was a lovely routine and I began to recognise the same people doing the same route day in, day out. Being British no conversation was struck up but there was a courteous nod or two!

My other attempt to keep up some level of fitness was to do a 30 day Yoga course on YouTube with instructor Adriene. It was probably good for me but I found some of the new agey bits of it a little too wacky for me. Helen has continued with it and I know enjoys it but it was a bit too much for me.

One thing that I have managed to do since 10th April is close all three rings on my Apple Watch. For those that are unfamiliar the rings measure movement (expressed in calories burnt), exercise (number of minutes) and stand (number of hours). In my case I need to do 330, 30 and 12 respectively. It really is quite addictive and when you go for a half an hour walk and your green ring only shows you have achieved 5 minutes of that really quite frustrating. It will be interesting to see just how keen we are to keep this up when winter comes.

Close those rings!

What has suffered?

What I haven’t been doing are any of the many side projects I’ve started over the years that are computer based as after a day in front of the computer I’ve found that the last thing I’ve wanted to do is spend the evening in front of the computer.

We’ve also watched much less TV and that was quite unexpected. When there were four adults in the house that meant trying to find something that all of us were interested in, which proved a challenge.

It has been interesting to see what I have missed and the answer is not a lot really. Whether I feel the same in another six months time (or however long this situation goes on for) is another matter.