In which Team GWG shares thoughts, ideas and experiences from isolated houses across the country.
Arabella Dymoke, Managing DirectorAt the beginning of lockdown, I was raring to go on lots of projects and jobs that needed doing. Those first few weeks of activity have segued into a routine that's a little slower and less demanding. However, I don't want to miss the opportunity that being housebound presents, so I'll be sure to rev up over the next few weeks.
Food wise, our menus have become a bit static but I'm attempting to cook some new recipes each week. I've particularly enjoyed The Vegetarian Kitchen by Prue Leith and her niece, Peta Leith. Their vegetarian recipes are full of colour and flavour.
Most recently, I have made some granola which has been on my cooking wishlist for years. I scanned the web and plumped for Felicity Cloake's recipe on The Guardian. As she says, once you've made your own, you'll never go down the granola aisle again. That's so true: I'm fantastically pleased with the result and it tastes so much better than shop bought. Also, I've given Jamie Oliver's recipe for flatbreads a whirl, which were easy to make and tasted OK. I used Greek yoghurt instead of lighter plain natural yoghurt which might have made a difference, or perhaps the dough could have done with more kneading.
Fruity frozen yoghurt bark was a great success and is fun to make with little ones, thanks to Lucinda Miller's recipe. Lucinda is a naturopath and author of healthy cookbook, The Good Stuff.
One thing I have really enjoyed is my first drink of the evening, Seedlip Grove 42 with Fever Tree tonic. How Seedlip can be alcohol-free is extraordinary as it certainly takes the edge off a sometimes frantic day. Served in a good-looking glass with ice, lime and a few sprigs of rosemary, you can imagine being in any up-market hostellerie.
I was expecting to binge-watch lots of box sets during lockdown but I've gone off watching the telly, probably because the news is so depressing. What I have enjoyed is Philip Mould's videos on Instagram as he shares his collection of art with his fans: short five- or six-minute videos that are easily digestible, especially when holding a Seedlilp drink. However, this and watching other stories on Instagram, has led to outrageous amounts of screen time on my phone, an average of 3.5 hours a day, something which I must reduce as lockdown continues.
In the meantime, it's back to the list of things I want to complete by the end of lockdown. When will that be, I wonder? More anon...
Lucy Abletshauser, Shopping EditorWe are now well into the swing of things with regards to home school. The boys are really enjoying their virtual classes and I alternate sitting in on their lessons.
My youngest boy’s class is particularly amusing me. Listening to the children’s questions and hearing the teacher’s calm response is fascinating! One of the kids interrupted the class to tell (very seriously) a short story about an old man passing wind. This was followed by tumbleweed silence, both in the virtual classroom and on the class Whatsapp.
Apart from school, I am loving reorganising the house and sorting out various charity shop piles and general decluttering. We are all keeping ourselves busy and the children have recently learnt backgammon, so play it whenever they can (don’t worry, there’s plenty of screen time going on too!).
We live in Fulham and the lack of air traffic noise at the moment is rather wonderful, despite this making the sad sound of ambulance sirens more prominent. This is a daily reminder of what is going on outside our cosy little bubble.
We had two huge white herons perch on our fence yesterday morning. This, I’m sure of it, is a very rare sighting and I‘m so annoyed that I didn’t have my camera to hand. The boys were gobsmacked.
Later on that evening, my eldest screamed that he saw a RAT outside, to which I (surprisingly calmly) responded: ‘You mean a mouse? A sweet little mouse that could easily be a pet?!’
‘It was brown and had a long pink tail, Mummy’.
I think that’s quite enough nature spotting for one day, thank you very much.
Becky Ladenburg, Features EditorWow. Lockdown in the rain really is the most monumental learning curve. It doesn’t look anything like lockdown in the sunshine. It has taught me some crucial lessons. First, an episode of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth makes an excellent Geography class. Second, nobody should welcome a new puppy to the family while they are forced permanently to #stayathome. Third, I must be actively grateful (now and when our ‘new normal’ begins) for my children’s astounding resilience. Fourth, ghastly though the prospect is, cleaning the bathroom does wonders for the mood.
Nancy Alsop, EditorAs the weeks roll by, I find myself oscillating between chirpily making the best of things in hopefully not too Pollyanna-ish fashion, and not quite believing that this is happening at all. For the grand majority of the time, we have been keeping ourselves very much contained to our street, other than for a weekly shop. But the other day, in need of a reminder that a world beyond actually exists, I went out for a solo and strictly socially distanced walk into the centre of Oxford, where I live. It was by turns utterly strange, like walking in a dream, and completely sublime. In the moments that none of the obligatory buses were thundering by, I could have been standing in Turner’s view of Oxford, the one that resides in the Ashmolean, a few hundred metres away, which I usually gaze at and sigh wistfully, imagining what it must have been like. Well now I know, sort of. Of course, Turner’s view wouldn’t have been deserted of people.
Oxford is a town full of ghosts of students and scholars past. I never walk past Magdalen College without imagining Oscar Wilde dropping witticisms liberally around its beautiful cloisters. And I can never go by Christ Church without conjuring – this time fictional – reminiscences of Sebastian Flyte peeling plovers’ eggs in his room, or Anthony Blanche reciting poetry through a megaphone to jeering hearties down below, whose contempt he revels in. Now it is all the easier to imagine their footsteps echoing down the empty, largely car-free streets.
But for the most part, we spend the hours we’re not working in the local cemetery. It’s a strange thing to go quite so often to a place. You become very familiar, almost territorial over it, as well as noticing more and more, all the time. Some of the headstones have begun to feel like old friends (or maybe that’s just the social isolation talking!). My daughter now sets up camp behind the cows’ parsley and pretends that she’s at school! It’s both sweet and sad.
Meanwhile, in our small city garden, we have a tiny (we’re talking one-metre square) pond, and we’ve just noticed a pair of sweet frogs have made it their home. That’s nature classes sorted. (I must also give thanks to the BBC’s Numberblocks and Alphablocks shows, for the moments when we have to work. Saving parents of locked down pre-schoolers everywhere).
By Team GWG
The Lockdown Diaries Part 1
The Lockdown Diaries Part 2