Baking Bread…

So why did I have to wait for a Pandemic to bake bread?

Honestly, it is the simplest thing to bake and so delicious. We always serve with pickles, tomatoes, meats and olives and makes a great lunch.

Pop the flour into a large bowl with yeast, 2 oz butter, water and salt and mix up into a lump then knead for at least ten minutes.

Recipe

1 lb 2oz granary bread flour

1 oz butter

salt

1 1/2 tsp yeast

9 fl oz warm water

Leave for 1 – 2 hours in a warm place covered with a clean damp tea towel

Bake for 30 minutes in an oven 230c (450F, Gas Mark 8)

I’ve got enough to make one more loaf and then will have to hunt down some granary flour. There is a shortage in the UK.

Enjoy your delicious homemade bread. Maybe we will all continue to bake after this is all over?

Sunday Memories – Shopping, Gardening, Favourite Podcasts, TV, Websites and a Publication…


The last week has been quiet with lots of activity around the home. Podcasts have been listened to, television dramas enjoyed, blog posts read along with trying to finish J G Ballard Short Stories paperback, food/gardening shop procured, baked bread, a much-needed glorious trip to Bewl Water for a wander and of course all the usual household chores.

Every day seems the same so you aren’t always sure what day it is. I haven’t seen anyone but had a friend phone call and Zoom session with adult children and other halves.

My routine has developed into chores in the morning which includes cleaning, business and writing. The afternoon often comprises of a local walk through woodland and reading in my summerhouse.

Shopping and a Covid-19 Test
This week I decided as my anxiety levels have decreased, I would brave a couple of shopping trips. One being food and the other garden related.

I’ve received a request to do a Covid-19 test, for research purposes which, although I’m sure I haven’t got it, agreed to participate in the hope it helps eradicate the disease.

So, I got up around 6.30am and realised after processing the swab and securely placing the swab in the container, I couldn’t open the bag. After much struggle, I had to drag hubby out of his slumber, to help. We eventually worked out there is a hidden slit in the side of the bag and managed to open it. What a struggle! The test was placed in my fridge ready for the booked courier to collect after 9 am.

By the time I arrived at our local Tesco’s I was feeling quite panicked. I scurried around with my extensive list, feeling frantic as I felt people behind were waiting to be where I am. Trust me, I’m a fast shopper but even I find the one-way system traumatic. Upon arriving at the till, I was told off for not standing on the blue spot (silly me) and this made me even more apprehensive.

However, I did thank the lady for all her hard work because I realise, she is in quite a challenging situation. When I returned home, I told hubby, he could go next week. Still, I got my face cream, moisturiser and hair spray. Yay.

To be honest, I was feeling more confident and was quite surprised how exacting I found the experience.


Gardening
That afternoon, I drove to our local garden centre. I picked up a few plants (petunias, pinks, geraniums) and went towards the house plant section. This area is also where you pay. I was making my way through, past the queue, and was curtly told ‘The queue is here.’ So, I weakly apologised and join the long socially distanced queue knowing full well I hadn’t finished my shopping. I felt exasperated but realised the tricky situation, paid for my goods and went home without the houseplants. Ha! First world problems and the joys of living in a socially distanced world. Our lives for the future!

Anyway, I’ve decided not to go too mad with the bedding plants this year as shopping needs to be minimal in this lockdown climate. Also, the garden is looking pretty at the moment with all the Rhododendrons out, and I am feeling very lucky to have space to enjoy, especially now.

A Podcast, A Subscribed Publication and Television
I particularly enjoyed the Minimalists’ podcasts on Politics this week. The Minimalists discussed the outrage and divisiveness of the current political climate and how we can avoid becoming caught up in the disarray and turmoil created by tribalism and partisan politics. I find their podcasts interesting and feel they are probably under subscribed because people assume they just talk about decluttering and tidying up.

We often sit down after dinner and watch a drama or documentary. During the last few weeks, we’ve enjoyed Devs, State of Happiness and Killing Eve. Devs has been my favourite though with the futuristic storyline, stunning cinematography and diverse soundtrack.

It is about a tech billionaire called Forest who is convinced that our lives are predetermined and questions our free will and responsibility for our actions. A fascinating watch and something different.

Another discovery is the website The Conversation, which is a network of news written by academics and researchers. It is fundamentally a giant newsroom with academics and researchers providing informed content that engages with current affairs.

I’ve recently treated myself to a subscription which is for the publication ‘The Week’. This is a publication which supplies a balanced news opinion about everything that matters globally.

I like to read political news from all perspectives and The Week briefs you well by documenting news from many political sources.


A trip out
We also went for a walk near and around Bewl Water. Although the area is local to me, unfortunately, I haven’t visited due to the fact I’m a bit mean about paying the £4 car parking.

Anyway, we parked in a nearby lane and wandered to the reservoir and discovered a quiet boating area, and walked around part of the reservoir and then sat and read our books and admired the view before going home. I’ll write more in another blog because the place is beautiful and deserves a write-up. In fact, I’d forgotten what a lovely place I’ve got so near to where I live.

Thanks for reading, following and supporting my blog. Much appreciated.

Mentioned:

https://www.bewlwater.co.uk/

The Minimalists Podcast

https://theconversation.com/devs-explaining-the-philosophy-at-the-centre-of-alex-garlands-mind-bending-tv-show-137507

https://theconversation.com/uk

https://www.theweek.co

Assumptions


To quote Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird,

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”


Over the years, it has come to my attention, assumptions are made about people. To be clear, I’m not writing so much about obnoxious popstars, selfish billionaires and politicians who are informing the nation to drink or take a highly toxic substance.

No, this is a general emphatic commentary written or said in a public domain, without thought or consideration.

A few days ago, I was surprised by a fierce reaction to an ironic online article relating to positive elements of the lockdown (which did end on a serious note about mental health).

The assumptions from the article (which obviously has been read in full by the commentator) are numerous but to sum up the article the writer (a journalist) has copious wine delivered, doesn’t work, is middle class and doesn’t think or care about others. Plus, we should remember about people who are working and or have lost their livelihoods…

All this may be true. It also may be untrue.
In fact, ask yourself whether you have drunk wine during lockdown? Do you have to be middle class to have alcohol or anything else like beer or food delivered to your front door? Might there be a reason you don’t want to saunter around Sainsbury’s during the present time?

Yes, of course, we are all aware people are working in difficult situations. Plenty of people have not only lost their livelihoods but lost their loved ones, which is far more important and horrendous.

How do you know his circumstances? Or mine? Or anybody?
He may have parents with dementia, a sister in a care home thanks to a momentary lapse of judgement by a drunk driver, isolated or ill family members and so on.

Oh, but is the comment really talking about the journalist?

Assumptions are a popular thing at present. Armchair posturing about all kinds of things. Fair enough, if they are being inconsiderate, giving fatal, false advice to millions of struggling people, and in a position of authority, etc.

The trouble is, is the commentary. Behind a screen. Bitching.

Does the person offensively complaining online write to the local MP? Turn up to community meetings? Partake in volunteering?
Are you taking responsibility at all?

How do you know the journalist doesn’t? Or me?

Are you just letting off more steam derived from bitter resentment because an interesting life is different from yours? Or you think the person voted for Brexit or this government?

I’ve seen a video (below), read posts, comments, friend chat about how there are elements of positivity about the lockdown. We have all slowed down and found time for lunch with husbands/wives/relatives/friends via zoom, cleaning/decorating homes, reading, gardening, etc.

Yes, people write frivolous things about fashion, music, politics, exotic holidays, decorating, cleaning, etc. during a pandemic.

This doesn’t mean their close friend hasn’t been unconscious on a ventilator in Intensive Care because of Covid-19 or they are not worried about the lovely person stuck in a care home through no fault of their own.

People need a release. They need to watch a box set, read a book, walk, run, eat crap too. Oh, and having the odd bottle of wine and a laugh helps. A sense of humour helps too. All good for one’s mental health. It doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten.

Very few people know about someone’s life and the older you become, wisdom shows, unless you are very close to a person, you probably don’t know what really goes on in a person’s life. A person’s perspective and reasons for their life we cannot control or envisage. The rest is just smiling and chitchat about beer, weather or a recent holiday.

Comments are preceded by a judgement which is from our perceived understanding of a state of affairs. Writing comments which are direct and endorse underlying messages based on assumptions appears negative, disapproving and narcissistic. This creates, distance, versus connection because you aren’t displaying empathy.

It also says more about the writer of ignorant opinions. They come across as condescending, superior and judgemental. Don’t get me wrong, we all form judgements and opinions but the method of expressing them is important. Do not make the complaint personal and public. If you feel the need to enlighten the nation with advice, knowledge, opinion or wisdom make sure it is procured with respect and personal integrity.

Assumptions become a habit and aren’t necessarily grounded in reality and distort opinion.

I’m happy to receive comments on my articles. Constructive criticism (which I’ve had), feedback on content but not insulting views with underlying messages based on ill-conceived opinions.

Make no mistake, people mainly write about frivolous stuff on Social/Media. Some share advice, some don’t. Don’t believe their content documents suffering, worry, stress and their whole life or the appalling things that are happening worldwide. We watch the BBC news for that!

My friend sums it up:
Everybody has their crap, it’s just different crap.

#WeRemember Video
https://www.prolificnorth.co.uk/features/2020/04/weremember-hopeful-video-thats-viral-sensation-coronavirus-crisis

Image

Becoming healthy and fitter?

At present, it looks like fatter. However, by the number of runners out and about it looks like there is hope.

During the last couple of weeks, people seem to have got to the stage where they have done a lot of their home projects and feel it is time to concentrate on fitness and getting back to some sort of ‘new normal’. Well this seems to be prevalent in my family and community.

We can go out but not out out.

So, maybe it is time to at least think about having a healthy body?
Even the folks working seem to be thinking along this line of thought. Are you?

 

Running

The NHS app from Couch to 5k has been downloaded on my phone and I shall attempt to run (again). This will be good for the respiratory system and general health.

The walk/run is ideal for returning and brand-new runners. For me, although I’m not an expert, the programme is a safe transition from walking to running. If you are a complete beginner, I would certainly take medical advice, do strengthening exercises and go slowly. The app is an NHS one, see link below.

Food

I’m going to start to avoid sweet food this week and snacking. Usually there aren’t many snacks in the house but some have crept in. Who isn’t feeling a little slob like at the moment? I know I am. This snacking malarkey makes you feel sluggish and unproductive and not great for the mood either.

Nothing like a workout to make you feel better.

This week I’ve started to do the Kelly Holmes 8.30 am fitness on Instagram. It is quite slow but very, taxing on the old body. But it needs to be done. Her book on Running Live is an excellent resource as well. Gives advice on mindset, fitness and nutrition.

None of this will be easy so will be taken slowly, hence the app and new workout inspiration.

However, all the media and armchair criticism is exasperating and so a few steps towards a healthy mind and body can only be helpful.

Clothes are becoming a little snug too.

On the plus side my blood pressure has gone back into the normal range (just). It was horrendously high at the beginning of lockdown. Everyone has found this time strange and stressful. Exercise does help.

Thanks for reading and I’ll let you know how I get on.

Aims:

Couch to 5k

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/?tabname=exercise-tips

Kelly Holmes workouts (stuff on YouTube too)

Healthier eating

Disclaimer: This blog is all about documenting life, opinions and tips. I’m not medically trained and I’m just documenting my experiences, reviews and opinions. 

 

Sunday Memories – Walking and Chat

 

Occasionally, we go for a drive in the car for our walk. Usually, only once every few weeks and I get excited about a little outing. It is amazing how thrilling a small outing is now which I suppose doesn’t do us any harm. Anyway, the outings below are rare and over the past few weeks

Barden Lake

Recently, we wandered around Barden Lake in Tonbridge. A glorious spot and an easy walk. There were a few people but the paths are wide for the 2 m rule so you feel quite safe. Who finds it weird how we walk in the road now to avoid other walkers? You walk along the pavement and wonder who is going to go on the road first. Must be confusing to children who are always told not to do this!

Anyway, it was great to see all the birds flying around. We saw mallards, geese, kingfishers and lots of dog walkers and families escaping the cabin fever. Is it me, are all the birds singing louder now? Probably me! I’ve heard people blame the lack of traffic but I’m sure they are louder and braver. A robin came up to me recently, and I thought I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened before.

Haysden Lake

We decided to walk around the above thirty-acre lake and soon found this challenging because the area is fairly wild in places and without paths. However, we enjoyed the ramble around the whole area.

About two-thirds of the lake area forms a nature reserve providing places for fishermen and yachting.

We started the walk by passing the Leigh Barrier which is used to prevent Tonbridge from being flooded. It is high up so provides excellent views of the surrounding area too.

Beachy Head

Now the UK lockdown restrictions have been eased this week, I’ve seen a couple of people and briefly visited the south coast.

The weather wasn’t great but dry. We drove to Beachy Head near Eastbourne. The cliff is the highest in England rising 162 metres (531ft) above sea level. You have a magnificent view of the east coast and is quite uplifting at this challenging time. (See top pic.)

Funnily enough, the name has nothing to do with a beach but is derived from the French words Beauchef (13th Century) and Beaucheif (14th Century) meaning “beautiful head(land)” which of course, it is.

Luckily, in 1929, Eastbourne bought the 4,000 acres of land for £100,000 and saved the area from development and is part of the South Downs National Park. David and I thoroughly enjoyed our wind blown walk and even the gales were invigorating. We did eat our sandwich in the car though. Certainly not picnic weather but it is great to enjoy an outing and glorious environment.

The cliffs are eroding every year so it is vitally important not to walk too close to the edge. The white cliffs are quite bright because of the erosion revealing the chalk.

The lighthouse is 43 metres high and electrified in 1920 and automated in 1983. The wild and natural environment is truly wonderful and worth a trip. We walked all around the headland from a nearby car park so we got our exercise in.

Source:

https://www.beachyhead.org/visiting-beachy-head/

Do we actually quite like LOCKDOWN? Plus another Memory List…

I’ve recently got into the lockdown habit of buying a Sunday newspaper, The Sunday Times. Journalist Rod Liddle was commenting about the fact we rather like this lockdown existence (above). 

I’ve mentioned all the negative aspects of the lockdown a couple of posts ago and don’t wish to appear flippant about this dreadful time but there is a positive a flip side.

Not having to see people you don’t really like is always good for an introvert (above). Personally, I like being with people and have been told I’m chatty but don’t always want to talk. Maybe that’s why I love going to the pub. You can chat to the locals or sit quietly on your own.

Not having to hug too is ok and I think this will be a permanent change. The kissing, on both cheeks. Really? People have become friendly but that is because they don’t have to talk now, just smile in the ‘yes, I’m walking round you, because of social distancing’ kind of way.

The changes this crisis will provoke are extraordinary. The main one, will be travel and commuting. I’m not sure people will commute to work like they used to. Now businesses realise employees can work at home, this will become the new normal.

Also, people don’t need to travel for business. They can hold meetings on Zoom and can action projects remotely. Hopefully, this will reduce costs, time and be good for the environment. Who doesn’t miss their two hour commute up to London or wherever? It is not just cost, but time as well rendering a productive work/life balance.

Who wants to be crammed on a bus/tube/train? Why not hop on a bike and wind all the motorists up in your lycra gear? Or we could be northern European, and use bikes as a tool to go about our business in normal attire and not look like a twit. Could we not?

I love to travel but the airports Ugh!!! It starts as you wait for your flight to be called. Mr Muppet sits on a chair with a bag on the next chair so you can’t sit down. Except Mrs I-will-sit-down (me obvs) will march up to said person and say directly whilst pointing to the seat piled up with wifey’s bags, excuse me, can I sit? Always works. Also, why do people queue up for 50 minutes just so they can be one of the first people to sit and wait on the plane?

We can now play spot the plane in the sky too.

The lockdown has given me time to deep clean and decorate, which I probably wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise. Also, it is good to be at one with nature again and actually hear the birds sing. From talking to people who are able to work, most seem to favour working from home and hope it will continue in some format. In fact, reading and listening to views on lockdown, it is apparent many people will view their whole lives differently and make radical changes.

Apparently, 68% of people have quite enjoyed the lockdown as they can slow down and see their children or just do what they want.

What about the children? There has been a post going around social media about two older people chatting. It starts by one remembering the cruelty of the virus, the deaths, the lost jobs, and suffering. The ageing gentleman replies by saying he doesn’t remember the lockdown that way. He was four years old, and just remembers playing in the sunny garden with his brother and seeing mum and dad all the time, laughing and spending time together due to the fact the parents were always around (working from home). This may seem sentimental and yet I do know a mum who posts daily ‘pictures of happiness’ of family life. The child she photos, will remember this time fondly.

(Yes, as a side note, I do realise how hard it can be to have children around 24/7 days a week.)

Maybe one of the issues here is many people have realised they didn’t like their ‘normal life’.

Let’s be honest, nothing much will change immediately because most of us haven’t succumbed to the virus. We will be socially distancing for months to come. So perhaps we should try to be positive?

For me, it will be nice to see family/friends/community again. I miss shopping (call me shallow), my little business, the occasional lunch or dinner out many times a week. Everyone has their own crap to deal with and I’ve certainly had mine. It is time to enjoy life and make the best of things. Isn’t it?

Many permanent changes will occur now and in the future such as home working, cycling/walking to work, using copious amounts of sanitiser, baking bread, and stocking up on food cans and bog rolls!

Makes you think doesn’t it? Do we need to introduce a fresh lifestyle? 


The Good Stuff list:
Key workers
NHS
Quiet roads (managing traffic better?)
Local shopping
Neighbourhood schemes/groups
Remote working/socialising
Online courses/virtual tours
Losing your mobile phone constantly (at home)
Not having to hug/kiss people in an offensively continental   manner
Writing daily on this blog
Free schedule 
People are ‘war time’ friendly
Altruistic attitudes
Time to do stuff – even gardening
New hobbies
New businesses – Thai takeaway
Relax
Read books/newspapers/articles
Podcasts – I’m hooked!
Birdsong (dawn chorus)
Enjoy the countryside (blossom)
Baking Bread/cakes
Local produce 
The weather! (Weird how it has been mostly sunny since this all started.)

Anything else?

 

Thanks for reading. Comments welcome.

Andrea x