Tuesday 31 March 2020

Life in Lockdown - Day 11 & 12

On Monday we combined our allowed exercise and food shopping outing by walking to our nearest shop for a few essentials. Luckily for us, Johal's is a supermarket as opposed to your average corner shop with an impressive variety of fresh veg, exotic spices, catering sacks of basmati rice, all manner of interesting dried pulses and huge trays of canned tomatoes and chickpeas. We shopped in solitude, there was plenty on the shelves and, unlike the major supermarket chains, no shortage of loo roll or bleach (not that we needed either).

The company we'd bought our seeds from last week had been in touch to say that all orders had been suspended due to high demand so Jon hunted for alternatives on eBay, winning a huge mixed lot of vegetable, herb and fruit seeds in the dying seconds of the auction. I found some packets of wild rocket and radish seeds listed as Buy-It-Now & snapped them up. When I'd mentioned having no luck tracking down compost and grow-bags a Facebook friend recommended a Staffordshire-based garden centre offering local deliveries (HERE) so I placed an order with them. Thanks, Gill!

As we've run out of noodles, our lunchtime staple, I made some dhal in the slow cooker ready for tomorrow and we ate cheese & tomato paninis, using bread Jon had found lurking in the back of the freezer.

WEARING: Vintage Crimplene maxi dress and Doc Martens (both charity shopped)

We planted aubergine, sweet pepper and serrano chilli seeds from Tina's stash in lidded trays and popped them on the windowsills upstairs to get them started.

I'd noticed that the door curtain in the lounge and the curtains in our bedroom were damaged in places so I took them down and stitched them back together.

Back in February, before lockdown, I'd reupholstered this Edwardian bench and noticed that one of the side panels was beginning to come away so Jon nailed it back in place. The reason it's taken so long to get around to doing it is that there's nearly always a cat lounging on it or under it!

I caught up with blog reading and commenting and, for tea, we ate roasted broccoli with a couple of Greek-style spinach parcels that Jon had discovered in the freezer, along with some baked mozzarella. The rest of the evening was spent watching Stockholm Requiem and reading a couple of chapters of my current book.

Tuesday, day 12, started in the usual way with Wii Fit, fruit and yoghurt and a blog catch up. I'm loving that a lot of my favourite people are blogging more frequently, it stops me feeling so cut off when I can read about how my virtual friends are spending their lockdown time.

The rest of the morning was spent cleaning our chandeliers with soapy water, a cloth and an old toothbrush. They were filthy, I should be ashamed of my slatternly ways, but I'm not! The joy of cleaning so infrequently is seeing an immediate difference when years of dust and grime are removed.

I was chatting to my friend Liz on the phone earlier about how, as maximalists, we won't be bored during distancing as our houses are crammed with stuff we can clean, refashion or repair. I pity minimalists with their empty cupboards, bare shelves and lack of ornamentation - what on earth are they doing with their lock-down time?

Sparklingly clean! This lot should be okay for the next ten years or so!

After Jon had taken the rugs outside and gave them a thorough beating it was time for lunch, half the dhal I made yesterday, which we ate with a couple of wholemeal rotis bought from Johal's yesterday (six for £1 and delicious).

Here's the recipe (serves four) :
  • 300g yellow split peas
  • I onion, chopped
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2cm grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ginger paste)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds finely crushed
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 700ml veg stock
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste

Place onion, tomato, split peas, ginger, chilli, cumin, turmeric, garlic and curry leaves in the slow cooker.
Add stock and stir.
Cook on high for 4 hours or until split peas are tender.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with roti or basmati rice.

WEARING: Vintage Miss Polly for Polly Peck maxi dress (£3, Charity shop)

Much to our surprise, the garden centre delivered our compost - just 24 hours after we'd placed the order.  To add to the excitement the postman brought my seeds which Jon sewed as soon as he'd finished cleaning a kitchen cupboard.

Tonight's tea is homemade spicy jacket wedges, vegetarian sausages, sweetcorn, peppers, carrots and peas and we'll be watching more of Stockholm Requiem.

Still staying in, staying sane and keeping yourself occupied? Let me - and my lovely readers - know.

See you soon!

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!