Keeping on

“It’s Day 4 in the Lockdown House.  Christine is at the computer.”

At the moment, it’s still quite amusing that we can walk around the house giving a running commentary in the style of the Big Brother TV programme (although my Geordie accent does leave quite a lot to be desired!) but I am under no illusions that the novelty will wear off before too long.

“It’s Day 20 in the Lockdown House.  Christine has been shut outside in the garden because everyone is sick of her terrible Geordie accent …”

Anyway, we’re not at that point yet so whilst I’ve got happy things to talk about, I’m going to do that instead 🙂

I’ll start by getting the obligatory baking photo out of the way …

Image shows chocolate brownies which have just been cut into squares

Everyone, or so it seems, has been baking and posting their photos on social media, apparently much to the annoyance of some people who are clearly already feeling the strain of being kept inside.  We do a reasonable amount of baking just as part of our usual weeks, and yes, we do make sourdough bread, so I am not going to apologise for small daughter wanting to bake brownies.  These were really good, by the way – the recipe came from the Jane’s Patisserie website and they’re actually vegan brownies which means that big daughter (who is lactose intolerant) can eat them too.  You would never know if nobody told you.

It’s been quite good for me to be distracted by things like this – I don’t know about you but I’m finding it quite hard to settle anything at the moment.  It’s got better as the days have gone on, but I’ve had serious ants in my pants all week!  I think this is probably quite normal; after all, our routines and schedules have changed and we’ve had no say in the matter, so it’s only natural that we should all feel a bit out of sorts.  I’ve been very grateful that my girls are that bit older and able to work on their school and university work themselves – it must be very difficult for those who are feeling unsettled and trying to deal with little ones as well.

Our dog is doing very well for walks at the moment as everyone is taking it in turns to take him out.  We’re going individually rather than in a family group and we’ve all agreed it’s been really nice to have a bit of time outside on own.  We get on very well, my husband, my girls and I, but we are all independent people and we do like time with our own thoughts so having a dog has given us the opportunity to have that.  We’ve been very grateful, and the dog has been very tired.

I’ve been in the garden again – well, I might as well whilst the sun is still shining!  The weather forecast for the weekend isn’t quite so warm and sunny, so I have to make the most of not having to wear a waterproof jacket!

I showed you the seeds that small daughter planted for me at the weekend – they’re currently “doing their thing” in the greenhouse and I’m hoping to have some green shoots to show you soon.  One of our cats is delighted that we’ve dug over the vegetable boxes and has been adding his own brand of manure, so I’ve covered them all over with mesh now to discourage him.  Blooming cat!

Image shows three seed trays and six plant pots in a green drip tray. They are all newly planted with seeds.

Out and about, the hawthorn is blossoming …

Image shows a branch of white hawthorn blossom flowers

Image shows blue sky showing through bare branches. One of the trees has blossom on it

and in the garden there are signs of Spring life.  This (as far as I can tell with the help of Google) is a Comma butterfly.  I don’t know that we’ve had these in the garden before, and this is a bit of a fuzzy picture but I had to take it from a distance as it kept flying away.  I’m hoping there’ll be plenty more butterflies in the garden over the summer and I might get some better photos!

Image shows an orange Comma butterfly resting on silver-grey Buddleja leaves

I’m sneaking this photo of this particular mess into the middle of my pretty flowers and butterflies so that you might not really notice it … this used to be a flagged area under a large tree where we kept our garden chairs and would light the chiminea at night.  Yeah, well, that was quite a while ago and now it seems to be turning itself back into a flower border.  I set to with a spade to dig up the layer of soil and leaf litter that covered the flags – I only got half way across before I ran out of puff (well, I had cut the grass as well!) but I’m trying to remind myself that I’m not short of time to get these jobs done at the moment.  I have a bad habit of thinking that everything has to be done at once, but it really doesn’t.

There will be an “after” photo, and it will look so much better – and I will sit there in the Summer evenings watching the bats swoop around the trees, warmed by the crackling fire in the chiminea and enjoying my glass of wine!

Image shows an overgrown area under a tree. There are plant pots and a bag of sticks next to a chiminea

As well as watching the butterflies, I had another garden helper.  I didn’t see the robin when we were working on the veg patch, but that might have been because there were too many of us around, so I was very pleased to see it when I was clearing the flags.

Image shows a robin searching for grubs on newly-moved earth

Again, this isn’t the closest or clearest picture, but I am hoping that the more time I can spend outside, the braver this little chap will get.  I don’t know if you’ve seen her photos, but Phil Saul who writes The Twisted Yarn blog has a super-tame robin that visits her for mealworms every day.  Her photos are beautiful – and this post is full of very sensible advice (Phil’s day job is as a psychologist) and, right now, free patterns.  Do go and take a look!

Back to the garden and the Magnolia stellata is out – it was only buds the other week and here are the flowers already.  I do love Magnolia flowers!

Image shows white star-like flowers on a shrub

These red shoots are a peony – we’ve got a few in the garden and I think this one came from my late mother-in-law’s garden.  There were a few more shoots but I hadn’t realised they were there and stood on them.  Oops!  Hopefully it will recover!

Image shows red shoots appearing between green leaves out of the ground

In my last post, I talked about creating a Haven space.  It doesn’t matter if you want to reinstate your Winter Haven space if you joined in with the KAL in January or create a brand new one, and I also think, given the circumstances, that it also doesn’t matter if you have more than one!

I managed to clear the space where my Dad’s bench would go now that’s been painted again.  You might not be able to see much difference between these two photos, but I can and now my bench fits on the flags and I can sit on it!

Image shows overgrown stone flags surrounded by weeds and bark chippings

Image shows the same area but tidier. There are more bark chippings and the weeds have been cleared

I have no idea how long we are going to be in this situation and I don’t want to have to rename my Haven space as the seasons change (and I refuse to call it a “Virus Haven”), so Haven space it is.

Image shows a brown wooden bench with a fabric bag printed with robin images, a half knitted sock in striped yarn and an orange mug of tea resting on it

The lovely thing about the bench is that it’s a shared Haven space for all of us – we can sit together or we can sit alone, and whilst it might only be me that calls it the Haven space, I will know that it’s doing whoever sits there a lot of good.

Here’s my other Haven space.  In the mornings, the sun is outside our front door and warms the stone flags.  I don’t feel in the least bit guilty about having two Haven spaces, or having more than one project on the go either!  I think we have to do what we can that makes us feel comfortable and – dare I say it – safe at the moment.

Image shows a multi-coloured cushion leaning against a glass window next to a wooden front door. In front of the cushion, on a wide stone step, is an orange mug of tea and a purple yarn bowl containing a half-knitted sock in multi-coloured yarn. The sun is shining onto the step

My husband had a bright idea the other night and has downloaded the BBC Sounds app to his phone so that we can listen to a comedy programme before we go to sleep.  It’s worked a treat, we’ve laughed a lot and slept really well the last couple of nights, so I think we’re going to continue doing this.  There are a huge number of programmes and podcasts to listen to on a huge range of subjects, so I’d definitely recommend taking a look at it.  Another idea would be to download audio books but it’s been fun to listen together and our reading tastes are not the same.  Plus, it’s definitely not the same listening to a book together if one of us is fast asleep!

We’re trying not to overload ourselves with TV just now – it’s very easy to think that you have to watch all of the current affairs programmes or all the box sets but you really don’t (I think small daughter may have missed that memo!).  We’re keeping up to date with the news once a day or so, but we’re not having the TV or the radio news on as background noise; it’s important that we protect our mental health and hearing about the latest deaths or the police having to supervise motorway traffic every hour (or more often) can only lead to us becoming more anxious about the whole situation – and that’s what we’re trying to avoid with having young people in the house.  They need to know that whilst this situation isn’t normal, it is one that we can get through without falling to pieces, and it’s up to us (my husband and me) to set the tone.  Everyone’s different and you might not agree with our view which is absolutely fine; we’ve all got to do what works for us but if you’re new to the blog, it does explain why (even now) my blog posts are full of robins and chocolate brownies!

I do hope that you and yours are keeping well.  I’ll be back soon with more ramblings – see you then! xx


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16 Responses

  1. Denise Fordyce says:

    I think there will be a lot of us vying for the "best-tended garden" award before this is over! And quite possibly the cleanest house, or the most WIPs completed, or the most books read…and I'm going to really try to work on my sketchbook too. There ARE positives to be found, you are so right. Thanks for your calm, wise words!

  2. Corinne says:

    Thank you for your lovely ramblings! I recently discovered the BBC Sounds app too. I absolutely love it. I've listened to Cranford and Carrie's War while baking or washing dishes and last night DH and I listened to Johnny Cash discovering his Scottish roots. I've been in the garden too, did you see the smoke signals from the burning crocosmia leaves?! I'm only in County Durham �� I did check in case the neighbours had washing out, and there weren't any creatures hiding in the dead grass. I am enjoying your regular posts, though. Please stay safe.

  3. Helen says:

    Love your ideas. I was weeding a front flower bed today and found a toad that made a decent handful. I moved him deeper into the flowers. I'm glad he/she is there and hope it eats my slugs (they do eat slugs don't they?). I also spent a lot of time sitting on my porch knitting on an afghan being done on fingerling yarn on size 2 needles (US – don't know what it is metric, but SMALLLLLL) 🙂 Love from Oklahoma, USA.

  4. happy hooker says:

    Oooo, those brownies look good. Resist, resist! As well as gardening and cleaning I'm going to root out my paints (some of which were my parents) and get back into watercolour painting. If I can sit in the garden to do so, even better. Now is the time to do some of those things you mean to do "one day". Keep safe, and sane. xx

  5. Margaret says:

    I love your blog. It covers such a wonderful selection of subjects and there's always something to smile or even laugh out loud about. Hope you and your family keep safe and the dog doesn't get too tired!

  6. sustainablemum says:

    Lovely post Christine. I hear you on the not being able to settle to things, that was the same for me for the first few days but now I seem to have got a little more settled. I love the idea of having a haven, I have been spending more time in our hammock out in the garden, it is has been wonderful to hang out there in the sunshine. Even though it has clouded over for now I think I might make this a regular thing during the day, lying out there with some knitting and a podcast is a great way to spend an hour.

  7. Susan Rayner says:

    I love hearing that the dog is getting four walks a day!! Lucky him! The photos are lovely as always – our Stellata (in Surrey) is almost finished and the early morning frosts and the wind has either browned or blown away almost the last of the blossom! We actually have Tulips in flower! Enjoy the gardening, baking and family time! Keep well.

  8. MaryAnn says:

    We are in day 13 of the national mandate to follow President Trump's 15 days of social distancing, but our governor (Pennsylvania) has given us a lockdown for 15 days beginning this week — so I think we are "locked down" until April 10th. Only grocers, pharmacies, gasoline stations and "essential" businesses are open (banks, hardware stores that also sell food). I have been embroidering a tablecloth for Easter that I now call my coronavirus tablecloth. I have devoted 151 hours to it so far. There is much to watch on TV about the epidemic and I also listen to books — so my husband and I are cocooning without much trouble. I retired last summer and am happy not to have to worry about working (just the dwindling finances as the markets react!) Thank goodness for technology to keep us together.

  9. Margaret says:

    Thank you so much for the ramblings – really enjoyable at this time. They reminded me of this poem:
    Kathleen O'Meara's poem, 'And People Stayed Home,' written in 1869, after the famine

    And people stayed home
    and read books and listened
    and rested and exercised
    and made art and played
    and learned new ways of being
    and stopped
    and listened deeper
    someone meditated
    someone prayed
    someone danced
    someone met their shadow
    and people began to think differently
    and people healed
    and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,
    dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
    even the earth began to heal
    and when the danger ended
    and people found each other
    grieved for the dead people
    and they made new choices
    and dreamed of new visions
    and created new ways of life
    and healed the earth completely
    just as they were healed themselves.

    I do hope we can heal ourselves like this

    • Francesca says:

      Beautiful thank you

    • happy hooker says:

      A very beautiful and apt poem. Thank you for sharing with us all. Let's hope it's true. xx

    • Unknown says:

      What a beautiful poem, thank you for sharing

    • Emory says:

      It is a very lovely poem, Margaret. Thank you–I've shared it with my family. Although it is a modern poem, just written by a poet in Madison, Wisconsin.

  10. Jennyff says:

    Mr FF and I each have an emergency bar of chocolate, one week in he is wanting to eat his but I am made of stronger stuff, its for if and times get rally hard. I won't tell him about your brownies or the emergency black currant pie I have in the freezer.

  11. Jo says:

    Lockdown and good weather means that there's going to be some beautiful gardens this year. And I think some of us are going to be carrying some extra weight too if the amount of baking being done is anything to go by, Eleanor's in the kitchen right now making chocolate chip cookies!

  12. Roz says:

    Decided that I was getting cabin fever yesterday, so went for a walk. Good job that bit of the A61 wasn't very busy as I had to step onto it at regular intervals to let other folks pass. Won't be going that way again!

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