On Monday 23rd March we went into an initial three-week lockdown. Our youngest, Alice, had come to visit us, so decided to stay during the lockdown rather than return to her flat in London. Sue was due to fly out to Germany as part of the Amersham A Cappella choir to represent the UK as AAC are current Ladies National Champions. A little taste of AAC is here: https://www.youtube.com/winningperformance. We were then flying to Lisbon for Easter. So unable to do any travel blog, I have documented our first six weeks under lockdown.
Magnificent 7 // Prestwood Lockdown, UK
1. Keeping fit
2. Exploring the countryside
3. Playing games
4. Using technology, being social
6. Cooking together
7. Starting chores
Where we stayed –
We live in Prestwood, a village in Buckinghamshire in the UK.
To eat and drink –
At the beginning of the lockdown many people were stockpiling due to simple panic. This meant that recipes had to be adapted, but not really a problem. Cooking became more communal. Although without self-raising flour my butterfly cakes resembled butterfly biscuits!
1. Keeping Fit:
Alice put together circuits for us to do on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. About 45-minute sessions that have proved this well-used 63 year-old carcass has lots of muscles that have not been put to too much use recently. Here I was thinking that as I exercise nearly every day (golf, swimming, dancing etc) that it would not be a problem, but, alas I am aching in places I do not want to ache. No wonder Sue called them Alice’s torture sessions. An upper body and abs workout is below. Yes I know, I need to get my backside lower when planking.
We started the Couch to 5km app and run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. My hamstrings and calves were sore to begin with and were less painful as the weeks wore on. I do have an admission to make, so lean closer and don’t tell anyone: I’m actually enjoying the running.
2. Exploring the countryside
Each day we walked (other than the three running days) from 60 minutes to 90 minutes and we have found footpaths and routes new to us. Look up online “Public footpaths in ….” It’s amazing to realise how blinkered we were, living here over 15 years and not knowing how many great walks are on our doorstep. There seems to be more wildlife evident and the red kites are all over the Chilterns.
3. Playing games
Most evenings after dinner we played a board game. Our current favourite is Azul: Summer Pavilion. I started off winning most of the time, alas, this past week I have won exactly zero times. We are all doing a compulsive app called Wordscapes. I also do the Spider Solitaire app’s daily challenge. It has been good doing things together, even Wordscapes, where we all help each other find elusive words or annoying Americanisms. Mental health is as important as physical wellbeing.
4. Using technology/Being social
As with most of the world, we have embraced Zoom. I looked at buying shares in Zoom Communications, but have one major drawback, no spare cash! The Motley Fool has been doing daily financial podcasts via Zoom ( I know, sounds boring, but I enjoy them). Sue and Alice do Zumba classes via Zoom and I have been getting together with my golfing group for a Monday morning coffee chat at the same time we would have been in the clubhouse after our early morning game.
We have also kept in touch with our other children in other parts of the UK and New York using Zoom and incorporated a quiz into our weekly chats. Sue sings with the Gareth Malone group (when she remembers!) and has just joined The Collective Choir as well as singing with her AAC chorus on a weekly basis. Alice uses House Party to keep in touch with a wide group of friends.
We have used YouTube to see musicals and plays that have been recorded as theatres are closed. My favourite two have been Jesus Christ Superstar with Tim Minchin as Judas and One Man, Two Guvnors with James Corden. Lovely gesture by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the National Theatre.
Luckily, we have Netflix and Amazon Prime. My favourite Netflix series watched during the Lockdown was The English Game about the birth of professional football and the rise of the teams in mill towns in the North of England. I did not realise it was based on true events. Excellent.
And yes, like everyone else we have had those GIFs and short videos shared mainly over WhatsApp. Some are funny, some are rude and some poignant. All three of us have our own WhatsApp groups with frequent messages.
We had some glorious weather during the first four weeks of Lockdown so reading in the back garden has been a boon.
We are avid readers and are re-reading books from our bookshelves. Books read have included: Jo Nesbo’s The Knife, Helen Dunsmore’s The Betrayal, Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky. All three are excellent and I highly recommend them.
We are sharing the cooking and have also had some BBQs. Yes, in the UK in early April. We had our first one of the year where we dined Al Fresco. Sadly, no real sausages in the shops so had to make do with chipolatas. Mind you, three of them, mushed together, cremated on the barbie and then smothered in mustard, is pretty tasty, especially washed down with re-hydrating beer, sorely needed after slaving over a hot BBQ.
As with most of the UK we have been baking. As well as the butterfly cakes (biscuits really) we have been baking bread with varying degress of success. Difficult to get bread flour and yeast, but when it is available we bake!
7. Starting chores
Hmm, how is it that when you are home a list of chores suddenly appears? As this is a Lockdown I have resisted, however a few things have been done:
- Painted the garden shed with Sue and Alice over two days. Looks great, at least the bits done by Alice and Sue do.
- Jet washed patio and paving slabs. I like water play and managed to wet everything in the vicinity.
- Sorted the garage and now have a pile to go to the rubbish tip. The only problem is that the local council tip is closed and is difficult to get to anything in the garage as there is big pile of rubbish in the way. Maybe I should have thought about this in advance.
- Sawed some wood for firewood we do not need until next autumn. Bit bored that afternoon.
- Watered the garden as wanted to try and make a rainbow as the sun was shining.
- Sue encouraged me in my water play so, under adult supervision, I jet washed the rubbish bin and food waste bin. The next week I graduated to the recycling bin. That’s progress for you.
- Recently we have started painting a few areas indoors that need a little TLC.
- We are very lucky to have a garden and enough room in our house to “socially distance” if we need to.
- We are spending a lot less as cooking at home is much cheaper than eating out. The car has hardly moved.
- We have noticed a lot less pollution on our walks. There is a greater community spirit; people say hello when you pass them, there are lots of rainbows in windows and signs quite rightly supporting the NHS. And birdsong seems so much louder.
- Spending time at home can be fun. Especially if the TV is not put on until the evenings (or at all).
- Sue volunteers at a foodbank so is an essential worker. But why have we got so many foodbanks in the UK? And the demand for help is constantly rising.
- People doing essential jobs are simply not paid enough. No professional footballer will save your life. The average premier league footballer gets paid £60,000 a WEEK, a registered nurse somewhere between £23-£30,000 a YEAR and a lot of people working in the care sector are on minimum wage. Where’s the sense in that?
The impressive red kites seen on our walks were introduced from Spain between 1989-1994 and released into the Chilterns by the RSPB and English Nature (now Natural England). There are estimated to be around 1,000 breeding pairs in the area.