Sunday, 29 March 2020

Life In Lockdown, Day 9 and 10

Yesterday, Jon woke up to Frank standing on his chest, nose pressed to his, so he took it as a cue to get up, let him & Stephen out and bring me a mug of tea in bed and we read till 8.15. I put the bathroom plants in the bath for a soak before joining Jon for toast in the kitchen.

After catching up with blog reading and commenting I got dressed, turned on the radio and sat and mended the dress I'd worn on Friday before removing my nail polish, decimated by yesterday's session in the garden.

I gave the bedroom chair a wipe down and hand washed the kilim cushion covers, pegging them outside to dry.

The postman arrived with a surprise parcel. Thanks to my lovely friend Tina for sharing some of her stash of seeds!

After lunch, we wrapped up well and ventured into the garden.

I continued collecting twigs brought down by last night's high winds while Jon got to work running them through the shredder to make mulch. There was much excitement when the delivery driver turned up with the greenhouse and after Jon had laid some weed suppressant fabric down he set to work building the frame, deciding to leave the cover for a day when the wind had dropped.

I dusted the bookshelf on the landing and Jon defrosted some curry for tea (frozen before lockdown).

Our evening was spent watching another episode of Simon Reeve travelling the Americas and indie film Manchester by the Sea (currently on the BBC i-player) Being a Saturday, rum was consumed.

This week's nails

Sunday morning means self-care. When I got up I combed organic coconut oil through the ends of my hair, epilated my legs, painted my nails, and slathered myself in coconut oil* before joining Jon in the kitchen.

I use THIS coconut oil - it's brilliant as a body moisturiser, an overnight treatment on hand and feet, a deep conditioner for hair and as an emergency eye-makeup remover (but a bit too heavy for daily use).

Breakfast was sausage sandwiches (veggie for me, meat for Jon & Frank) while we watched    The Andrew Marr Show. I put the rest of the houseplants in the utility room sink for a thorough soaking, washed my hair and then stripped & changed the bed and loaded the washing machine. Despite the intermittent snow showers I pegged the washing on the line, it was so blustery that it was dry within an hour.

Jon braved the Baltic conditions to finish off the greenhouse and by building a raised bed from his stash of salvaged wood. I thought I'd try and wear in these Doc Martens I found in a chazza shop back in 2018, the previous owner had donated them unworn and boxed, they're still a bit on the stiff & creaky side.

Frank's interested.

Stephen isn't.

Ta-dah! The new greenhouse -  it's nothing fancy but hopefully, it should do the job.

 Still full from sausage sandwiches we didn't bother with lunch, opting to eat our tea earlier instead. I dusted the Poodle Parlour, sorted out my craft cupboard and gave my fashion, textile & craft books a wipe down.

Lurking in the drawer were these family daguerreotypes from my Mum's side of the family. Ace might enjoy these.

It seems to shame to hide them away in a drawer, they're a bit creepy but worthy of being on display.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the lounge finishing Arthur & George. Frank's mid-lick if you're wondering.

There's cauliflower cheese with jacket potatoes in the oven and I'm off for a shower before we eat it. Tonight's entertainment is Race Across The World and subtitled Scandi thriller, Stockholm Requiem, which we started watching on Friday.

Hope you're all well and staying positive & motivated. Do let me know what you've been up to.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Life on Lock Down - Day 7 and 8

After my usual start to the day, a Wii Fit session & fruit & yoghurt for breakfast, we got dressed and left the house - the first time in a week - as we'd run out of milk. The plan was to drive to B&Q (a DIY superstore) first as we needed some bits and pieces to complete a few tasks but, despite checking their website the previous evening, the store was closed and operating a click and collect service only, we passed Morrisons but there was a huge queue so we carried on to our local Co-op which was mercifully empty. We got milk, bananas and fresh veg (enough to see us through the next week or so) as well as a carton of eggs for a friend. We drove round to his house, knocked on his door, left the eggs on his doorstep and waved at him from the car - it all felt very strange.

Back at home I caught up with blog comments, pulled on my work boots and spent a couple of hours in the garden. The council has - understandably - cancelled our garden waste collection for the foreseeable future but these leaves will be fine in our compost bin.

After lunch, I continued in the garden, unearthing a heap of branches from beneath a clump of ivy which I moved to the wood store, which is now nicely topped up, in time for the bitterly cold weekend we've got forecast.

There are signs of Spring popping up all over the garden, I wish the rhubarb would hurry up and grow, I am desperate to eat it.

Fennel, which is great in pesto.

We already used a few of our chives for a potato salad earlier in the week.

 The wild garlic's gone mad, here's another couple of clumps which seem to have sprung up overnight.

 Rosemary grows like mad and is utterly delicious with roasted veggies.

The redcurrant bush has sprung into life...

And the apple tree is starting to sprout green shoots.

Jon continued sorting out the coal house which hasn't housed a bag of coal for a long time as it's bursting at the seams with junk critically important VW parts. Meanwhile, I sat and read in the sunshine. After showers and tea (roasted vegetables with Haloumi), Jon decided to have another go at placing a food order online and, lo and behold, managed to get a slot for next Wednesday.

Hallelujah! Perfectly timed for our never-had-a-wedding anniversary on 1st April! Isn't it strange how we're delighting in little things like this? We really are living in a strange new world.

I fully expected to be the only residents of the avenue voicing our support for the NHS last night but I was wrong, by 8pm our applause was just a tiny part of the wall of noise emanating from all over Walsall, cheering, drums, fireworks, car horns and people shouting "NHS, we f*cking love you". What an amazing feeling it was, being part of a community after a week of isolation.

This morning (day 8 of Stonecroft's lockdown) I decided to scrub the radiator in the lounge, a pig of a job, after my Wii Fit session.

My daily breakfast: orange, banana, black grapes, blueberries & raspberries (bought from the market last week, before lockdown) with natural yoghurt and a sprinkling of seed and dried fruit mix from Morrisons.


Last night the government finally made a pledge to help the UK's 5 million self-employed. Over a coffee, I dug out my tax returns and did a rough calculation of the grant we should expect in June. Expecting to have to live off our savings the news was most welcome.

After getting dressed I threw the contents of the laundry basket in the washing machine and hung it on the line to dry (I decided our pants weren't really worthy of a photo!) After checking thoroughly for any nests, decided to tackle the ivy threatening to engulf our compost bins.

That's better!

Here's today's gardening outfit. I won this vintage dress on eBay about 15 years ago and the Mary Quant scarf came from a jumble sale - a total cost of £1.09!

Last night we watched another episode of Simon Reeve's travels across America, this time he visited the giant redwoods in California. I reckon the trees in our garden aren't far off those huge beasts.

Look at this naughty boy! Stephen Squirrel digging for victory in Jon's freshly weeded veg patch - I've no idea what he's doing, he comes inside to use the litter tray.

This one's far better behaved than his adopted big brother.

After such a frenzy of activity, I decided that I'd earned the right to spend the rest of the afternoon reading in the sunshine, so I did, although the cold wind soon had me scuttling in for cover. Tonight we're having vegetarian sausages, eggs, chips & peas for tea and, with it being Friday, a glass or two of rum.

Are you all staying at home, keeping well and smiling through these strange times? I do hope so!

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

The Distancing Diaries - Days Five & Six

The weather's been so beautiful over the last couple of days it's hard to believe that the world is in crisis outside the confines of our garden. Here in the UK, with the exception of key workers, we've been on lockdown since midnight on Monday.

So, on to Tuesday, day five of house arrest. the day started with Wii Fit and fresh fruit and yoghurt. I got dressed (in a 1960s Leo Narducci kaftan) and caught up on my blog comments whilst Jon tried to follow the government advice and order our food online but none of the supermarkets has any slots available for the foreseeable future so it looks like we'll have to leave the house and go hunting for supplies very soon!

I cleaned the bathroom and mopped the floor.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the loo roll, we're not stockpiling- Jon bought two multipacks before we went to India, he must be psychic!

I gave my air plants their fortnightly feed. This was my eBay bargain of last year, two plants, some unused speciality food and two handmade macrame plant hangers for a Buy-it-Now price of £5 including postage. I'm amazed I haven't killed them yet!

Jon took himself off outside to tackle one of the garden sheds, ably assisted by the cats. I washed the vintage glass in the bathroom and on the landing & cleaned the picture frames on the Wall of Misery.

I took down the me-made blind from the top of the stairs and gave it a thorough beating in the garden covering myself in clouds of dust, I've no idea when I last cleaned it - if ever!

We'd been promised temperatures of 16°C (warmer than Rajasthan) and by lunchtime, Jacob had awoken and was stomping around the kitchen so I popped him in his pen with a bunch of dandelions to munch on.

After lunch I pottered around the garden, pruning a couple of misshapen shrubs and cutting some Forsythia for the house. It reminds me of Grandma, who always filled a vase of it in the Spring.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside in the sunshine reading Arthur and George.

After tea (a tin of baked beans with jacket potatoes and grated cheese) we watched The Big Sick on the BBC i-Player which had been recommended by the 6Music film critic, Rhianna, as a wonderful diversion for the weird times in which we're living. As a rule, we detest Rom-Coms but this was a joy. Highly recommended for a welcome bit of light relief.

On the theme of brilliant TV, if you haven't seen the wonderful BBC mockumentary, This Country, about village life in The Cotswolds, all nineteen episodes are available on the i-Player. It's in my all-time top five British comedies, I love it.


Wednesday (day six) started the usual way - thirty minutes on the Wii Fit and fruit and yoghurt for breakfast. After getting dressed, I stripped the bedcover and bolster case off the bed in the spare room, washed them and hung them on the line to dry and took Jacob outside for a run in his pen.

When I drew the curtains this morning I noticed I'd missed a tear when I'd mended them so did a quick repair by hand before dusting and sweeping the spare bedroom, then I cleaned all the mirrors in the house with white vinegar and an old tea towel. Jon decided to tackle the contents of the coal house.

After lunch (noodles, as usual!) I had another wander around the garden and filled a basket with more twigs and broken branches. The weather's set to get cold again at the weekend, although the night time temperatures have been pretty icy all week, so we'll doubtlessly be lighting the wood burner as we can't afford to be frivolous with the central heating.

 I didn't empty any of my patio pots last year and many - despite being annuals - are showing signs of life so I gave them a good soaking.

Daily tasks completed, I spent a couple of hours of reading in the sunshine and watching the birds whilst Jon mowed the lawn for the first time this year. I'm now supervising Jon who's making a potato, broccoli, mushroom and wild garlic frittata to go with our salad. The washing-up (A dishwasher? Us?) should keep me occupied for a while.

Tonight is Wednesday which means rum night. Believe it or we only imbibe alcohol on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (and pre-lockdown, the occasional Monday) even though the coronavirus situation is enough to drive us to drink on a daily basis!

Wishing all you lovely people positive and healthy vibes and please share what you've been up to in the comments - I and my readers love to know how you're passing the time.

PS Don't forget to join the volunteer army and help our NHS here