What I would like to keep

The loosening of the lockdown has our thoughts turning to it finishing altogether.  A subject fraught with emotion, science, politics and completely out of my control.  But what is in my control is what I choose to keep from this strange period of my life.  And there is lots that I have enjoyed and would love to keep hold of.  

Working from home.  I am enjoying being at home generally.  Spending what was commuting time in exercise or chatting to family, or cooking something healthy is a great swap. Being able to sit outside at lunch times, or to stand in the garden for a few moments whilst the kettle boils are precious stress reducers in the day.

Video conferences for Scouts and church meetings.  Don’t get me wrong, I am missing the interaction with people a lot, but I have to admit that finding the time for various meetings in the evenings and weekends is so very much easier without also having to negotiate for the car and factor in travel time.  Especially when the travel time for work happens too.  It really does feel like some meetings are much more efficient via video call.

Doing much more craft.  I am not a natural crafter, but since lockdown we have had a designated craft night every week, I have had some crafty video callswith friends and various bouts with the sewing machine to stitch up laundry bags or face masks.  All of them have been enjoyable and I like pottering about with various little projects.

Games and jigsaws.  We own tons of them and rarely play them.  Jigsaws are reserved for Christmas holidays pretty much and board games for family gatherings.  Until lockdown, when they have become very much a part of the week.  Hugely enjoyable and actually do not take much time.

Spending time in my garden.  My garden is made for sitting in, not weeding.  By which I mean, I deliberately grow weeds and enjoy doing so.  Except that I have been gifted lots of lovely vegetable seeds and plants this year – so I have a mini allotment in pots alongside the weed beds.  Lush, green and productive.  Perfect garden.

Running every morning.  It started as a way to make sure my lungs were as strong as they could be before they were inflicted with a respiratory virus (no I have no medical or scientific basis for this actually helping in any way, but it helped me feel that I was doing something to stay in control) – or someone else in the family was afflicted and we would have to isolate, or the government would ban all exercise outdoors.  I was sure one of those would happen within a couple of weeks.  Eight weeks later and we have run every day except on Sundays.

Long walks early on a Sunday morning.  Ironically once churches open for worship these walks will have to get earlier, but I am loving a pre-breakfast walk through local urban parks and country parks, or a little further afield now that driving is possible.  And the fact it is not a run makes it all the more delicious, so it is dependent on the previous point.

Better food.  Having more time at home means I am cooking even more.  I hate sandwiches and having the time to have a proper lunch is just lovely.  Our fruit and vegetable consumption has increased greatly – which started as another obsession to build our immune systems ahead of the viral attack.

Great sleep. All of the above is possibly contributing to my sleep being better than it has been for years. Keeping this post lockdown is maybe dependent on keeping everything else in place.

Being at home more.  I like being at home.  Which surprises me, as I spend so much time out of it usually. 

Preparing the garden

For the purposes of this blog I am stepping outside myself and being curious about what is happening during this strange time of social distancing.  Although I am now at home for the next 12 weeks, others in the family are able to head out, but that is limited to food buying, and there is not loads of that needed.  Food will be another blog I think.

This weekend has been about the physical space.  I have not nested like this since about April 2003.  And it felt exactly the same drive and urge this weekend.  I am assuming this was a psychological rather than hormonal urge, but I had a feeling of urgency that I can only compare with pregnancy nesting.   I had a specific need to get the patio tidied and the garden raked and cleared. 

All the family is now here in the house, the uni student and all his clobber arrived back on Saturday.  The garden will be an important part of the next 12 weeks.  At the moment we can and do walk the surrounding streets and paths every day, but as the lockdown gets more stringent that may of course change.  And in our normal days we are out of the house a lot.  I walk a lot, I travel a lot.  A few walks in the surrounding area is going to feel different.  The garden is going to be an important part of life.   We are so incredibly lucky to have it.  We have seats aplenty and a table out there, we have space to put up our little tents.  I can foresee working from the garden, meals on the patio and weekends under canvas – the latter is my latest scheme to make weekends feel a bit different.  The neighbours are going to think we’re bonkers by the end of this. Correction, the neighbours are going to know we’re bonkers at the end of this.

All the gardening had the benefit of getting us outside, doing something physical, working together as a team and a certain amount of horseplay from the younger family members.  It was a good way to settle the uni student back in the family and to get us all back into the garden and familiarise ourselves with a space that is largely abandoned in the winter, due to it getting extremely waterlogged, and well, me being a fair-weather gardener.

For now, it is a real treat to see a garden that is now usable and I’m hugely grateful for having any outdoor space and having a bin collection to take away the garden waste we have created.

A garden for me

I love green, being surrounded by leaves calms me and makes me feel I am miles away from a city, not in the middle of suburbia.  One of my goals for this spring was to make a quiet place in the garden and we did that this weekend, creating a seating area at the bottom of the garden.

It’s not quiet because it is far from the house, but because it is surrounded by green, which makes it feel quiet.  About 10 years ago we planted a new hedge to disguise the fencing panels.  A decade on and we have a wild looking, huge beech hedge interwoven by a rampant jasmine plant and an even wilder field maple and something else hedge – I forget what the other tree was, but it is green, the birds love it and I feel as though I am in a wood when I am near it.

The cotoneaster hedge which was there when we moved in is less interesting maybe, but the dunnocks love it and it is huge and old and serves to stores old branches and twigs under, I have no idea what lives in that pile of branches, but hopefully someone has found it useful.

A couple of years ago we pulled up all the flowering plants in our two borders which we were so hopeless at weeding around and looking after and planted some fruit trees instead. And then promptly did not weed around them.   The husband did a grand job this weekend of weeding and mulching one of those borders, which looks beautiful now.

And he built the seat that is now installed at the bottom of the garden.  Which gives a whole new perspective of the remaining unkempt border. The poor cherry tree in the middle of it is surrounded by all sorts of plants which have resolutely refused to disappear.  From the top of the garden it looks a mess, from the bottom it looks like an interesting wild border, with bees buzzing, some flashes of colour and a sense of lushness. We have decided to let it be for another year and see what happens.

Creating my perfect garden has involved clearing the path through it, so I can carry a coffee without getting caught on a bramble, and putting even more seats into it, so I can sit and drink the coffee anywhere.  It’s not a gardener’s garden, it’s a sitter’s garden, perfect for taking a break and sitting in the green.  Perfect for me.

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wild and interesting