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. 

Delicious moments

At times I am loving this lockdown. There are times of sheer joy and I am relishing them.

The other evening there was a short time that could have been from a family in the 70s.  All four of us were in the sitting room, just there.  No TV was on, there was no specific reason for being there we had just gathered in our own sitting room because each of us wanted to hang out.  We sat and chatted, not about anything in particular, just chatted. I am not sure it’s ever happened before, I hope it happens again.

We eat lunch together every single day.  We have never had a holiday longer than two weeks, so this is a record now as we’ve all been here for longer than that (although I have just checked and it’s only two and a half weeks since we’ve all been home).

We laugh every single day.  Without fail.  My offspring are hilarious, I rarely have time to appreciate their humour, some of it is irritatingly silly, but generally they are masters of wisecracks and comic timing.  I get to relish that.

My dog is loving having us all at home.  He is very poorly (that is far from delicious, it’s awful) and may not survive the rest of the lockdown.  He is being very cuddly, we suspect because he feels a bit rough at times.  He comes and asks for cuddles quite frequently during the day.  It is wonderful to be here and able to provide him with the comfort he needs.  Even when he is not in need of a hug, he is loving wandering from room to room and checking what the humans are up to. 

I can be in my space, my house and my garden every single day.  Ok so this is also a pain, obviously.  But you know what – I love my house and my garden. That may change, ask me again in two month’s time and I may have gone off it, but for now, my physical space is absolutely perfect for me.

I have time to do some of the creative stuff I rarely have time to do.  Pottering around with a sewing machine, with some lino cuts, calligraphy pens.  Nothing very serious, but fun to potter.  

I have time to stare at the moon, the sunsets, the birds singing in the garden.  I have time.  What a treat.

The joy of hosting

I do love having people here to stay or for a day. This was a non-hosting weekend, but it gave me some time to think about the differences between a houseful of guests and one without.

I do make more of an effort with the physical environment when visitors come. So, yep, I clean if you visit, not so much if you don’t. This became a bit of a joke when the children were very small and I would ask people over for coffee explaining that nothing else would motivate me to get the vacuum cleaner out.

My house is not huge, but it’s not tiny. Having people here to stay or even just for the day is an exercise in re-enacting A Squash and A Squeeze by Julia Donaldson, one of our favourite children’s books. Well one of mine. I early on recognised the joy of cramming lots of people into a house and then the realisation when everyone leaves that there is plenty of space really.

Over the years, having the aim of inviting people over has led to certain decisions in arranging the house. A small extension now houses a large dining table. We replaced two chairs with another sofa in the sitting room, as that gave a bit more space for people to squish in. For ages there was no coffee table, because playing room for children was much more important. There is a variety of spare beds stashed throughout the house. The garden was changed to add in sofas and a few extra seats, recognising that our garden is a place for people much more than plants really.

I enjoy the challenge of catering for groups and am rarely happier than when the house is full at breakfast time. All of which makes me think I need to plan in some weekends hosting folks. Off to the diary I head.

Being where they know your name

Remember the 80s American sitcom Cheers?  I need to re-watch that, I can’t quite remember why it was funny, but it was.  The theme tune mentions a bar where everyone knows your name.

It came to mind yesterday when one of the offspring and I were chatting about where to meet for our ritual Monday afternoon coffee.  We had a choice between the place we usually go to and somewhere with better cake.

The usual venue won out because, he said, “they recognise me there”.  I really wanted the excellent scones from the other venue, but feeling that you belong is much more important than cake in the end.

The choice of our usual venue came about despite the fact there is better coffee elsewhere and it is one of the chain coffee shops, not one of the interesting independents.  But it’s the one that first appeared on our high street, so the younger offspring has been going there since he was teeny tiny.

I moved homes and towns and schools a lot as a child.  A lot. My children have never moved home or school apart from the natural progression from one stage to the next. Those two facts are definitely linked. I really relish and appreciate the fact that a teenager can choose to meet at a coffee shop where he is known and which he has known forever.

Sometimes it’s good to stretch out for new adventures, other times it’s better to feel comfortable and amongst familiar faces in familiar places.   It is perfect when you have the choice between the two.

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I missed out on this – but it was worth it.