Sunday Memories – The Summerhouse, Books, Painting Furniture, Walking and Working (again)

It has been another quiet week although looks like we will be returning to some sort of normality soon as the UK lockdown is gradually lifting.

To be honest, I can’t wait. I’ve now developed habits around sanitising, not touching my face and constantly washing hands. I have stopped washing up my food shopping apart from a few bits such as milk.

I’ve also stopped reading and listening about Covid-19 news as I’m heartily bored with it. This may appear apathetic but I’m sick of all the media moaning (and by my Facebook feed whatever people’s politics are, I’m not the only one). The media seem to be like a stuck record.

Maintenance of Garden Bench

Anyway, I’ve done some furniture maintenance and painted the garden bench. Apparently, according to hubby, this is not upcycling but maintenance.

Whatever it is, it was hard work! I started by scrubbing the bench to clear the muck off and then after many hours, varnished to protect the wood which did rather smell.  This took most of the day and was left to dry for painting the next day.

During this time my daughter turned up and I provided a cup of tea and we sat and chatted in the sunshine. Lovely. I’ve missed seeing people. I was telling a neighbour, I feel as if I’m becoming too used to being on my own. It’s not good is it?

I’m looking forward to seeing both offspring (and partners) tomorrow in a local park near my son’s abode as we can now meet up from the 1st June.

The next day I painted the bench, left it to dry and then painted another coat. Used a whole pot of paint. I was surprised how exacting I found it. I’ve a new respect for people who do this for a living. Pleased with the result and it is great for my morning coffee break too.

Bewl Water

David and I decided we couldn’t face the crowds at the coastal areas (and lack of loos) so did another walk around Bewl Water. We parked in the same place but ventured through woodland around the opposite way around the reservoir. It is such a beautiful spot. People are now sailing, fishing or just going for a stroll. I’ve noticed an increase in family bike rides as well. Maybe this will encourage people to walk and cycle in the future.

We stopped and read our books (see below for which ones) so it was a pleasant, relaxing outing which I feel will be repeated often. Strange how it has taken a pandemic for people, including myself, to enjoy the countryside again. Although to be fair, the weather helps.

The Summer House and Books

I often spend the afternoons in my summerhouse devouring a good book. If there is one thing that has been worth the financial investment, it is the summerhouse. The space has become a place I can read, entertain friends and family, a storage area and somewhere different to go away from the house. Also, as our English weather can be rather precarious it is a great place to sit in and not feel chilly as you would normally. I can recommend one if you’ve some outside space.

The two books I’ve read recently are The Complete Short Stories, Volume Two by JG Ballard and Dead Gone by Luca Veste.

Ballard’s stories are an extraordinary, diverse selection of literary tales using his surreal, futuristic imagination. I’ve been reading this volume for what seems to be forever and it was a long haul. I gave it 3* out of 5 on Goodreads. See the size of it below!

Luca Veste’s is a fun phycological thriller and an easy read particularly in comparison with the above. All about someone taking students for experiments and then killing them! The interaction between characters is intriguing as the story unfolds. It is gruesome so be prepared. 4*

Business

Now things are returning to a ‘new normal’, I’ve slowly started working on my business again and sold a few things. I’m selling vintage/preloved clothes and jewellery online. This has kept me busy and I’m enjoying the work. Lots of photography and relisting old stock. Hopefully, the work will build up during the next few months and I can go out for more stock.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe.

Andrea 😊  

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. 

 

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

Sunday Memories – Dora Maar Tate Modern Exhibition

Oh, life before Covid-19; how wonderful it was. A few weeks after The Shard visit we ventured up to London again to view the above exhibition. My friend had been lucky enough to be given a ‘membership of the Tate’ card which included free viewings and entry to private lounges. Brilliant.

We set off to London and thoroughly enjoyed the photography of Dora Maar. She is remembered for being an accomplished French artist who had a romantic liaison with Pablo Picasso. Maar created surrealist collages and depictions of the Provence with striking black and white photography and paintings.

Her use of mirrors and shadows endeavoured to form her links with intuitions and ideas rather than natural imagery. Marr’s fascinating photomontages reflect a time after the Depression that depicts poverty and society during a fraught political climate.

She seems to optimise the modern woman focusing on portraits, nudes, fashion, society, and even advertising. I loved the investigational aspect of her work. The innovative practices such as montage and collage merging fact and fiction. The work is inspiring and must have been ahead of her time. The inspirational factors seemed to represent life but Marr uses obscure techniques.

The exhibition explored Maar’s long career and in the context of her work, her contemporaries and life. The work included when she concentrated on painting, poetry, religion and philosophy not returning to photography until her 70s.

We really enjoyed the exhibition. It is great to view such disparate, philosophical work which explores the peculiarities of society and life whilst championing the irrational and bizarre.

On a social side, we enjoyed the privileges afforded to members of the Tate Gallery. The spectacular views from the Members’ bar in London are amazing. Having lunch with that view is something I will never forget. I can remember feeling jolly about being able to view some amazing forthcoming exhibitions without being encumbered by any virus. We were naively confident, we could continue to appreciate art for at least, weeks if not months, to come. Hopefully, the membership will be stretched forward to make up for the closure of the Tate.

Have a lovely day everyone.

Thanks for reading and following my blog. It is greatly appreciated. 😊

 

Lockdown Food and Memory Lists

This morning David (Husband) got up very early and visited our local supermarket. This saves queuing and wanting to clonk the one idiot who refuses to social distance.

My goodness, we have enough food now for several weeks and spent loads of money. This action derives from me having nightmares about running out of food, waking up with Covid-19 symptoms, and having to isolate with no food in the house. Yes, my children smiled on last night’s Zoom chat, joking they don’t charge much for delivering food.

When I become really old (if I get there which is doubtful if I don’t stop eating crap), I will be one of those stubborn folks, who refuse help will I not? Didn’t even occur to me to ask for help.

The food arrives with hubby saying it was quite busy, and I decant the bags and proceed with the ridiculous task of decontaminating the food packaging and jars. Dear God, really? This is what we have come to?

Then, once washed, and only then, is it organised, with obligatory rubber gloves on, into the appropriate storage. Raises eyes to the ceiling. What a carry on.

Although, I must confess, a list was carefully written and it is fun to have the BIG REVEAL of goodies such as copious red wine (tick), chocolate biscuits (tick), craft beers (tick), mixed nuts (tick) and I’ll probably be as fat as a house, by the time this has finished (tick)! Hubby even managed to get some gold dust; oh I mean hand sanitiser. £6 flipping pounds!!!!! I paid £20 online, but at least I acquired it when needed.

Seriously though, at the beginning of this dreadful time, I could hardly eat because I had the worst anxiety and panic I’ve ever had. My blood pressure is high and the situation is an ongoing worry. At least the government are now indicating when lockdown will end but we will all have to be very, very careful for months to come.

This week. I’m taking steps to reduce the rubbish and eat more healthily. I’m walking in the local woods daily to raise my mood ‘what is this mad woman who wanders around the woods?’ I feel everyone is thinking. Who cares what folk think as they walk their dogs? I do not. Also, we are eating even more fish, chicken and veggie meals. Although, I’ve clocked hubby has bought some charcoal, lighters and beef burgers so a BBQ is obviously imminent.

Some of the things I’ve been eating are chicken casserole, pan fried salmon/cod veggies, veggie omelettes, fresh pasta, home baked bread and picky bits for lunch. All good, healthy fodder but a few biscuit snacks are creeping in the evening which we NEVER have normally.

Who would have thought we’d have been living like this when we were at the New Year’s Eve party drunkenly hoping the 20’s are going to roar? Roar they are, but not in the way I was hoping.

I listened to the Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin and the topic discussed was lists to make memories. In a future post I will write about what I’ve changed during this time and what I will continue. Here is today’s list…

Words and phrases to describe this time:
Loo rolls
Sanitiser
Flour
Hair dye
Puzzles
Quiz
Family walks (‘It takes a Pandemic to go on a family walk’ written on Instagram)
Exercise equipment
Clean
Birds (tweeting)
Zoom
Alcohol (Beer, wine, gin)
Isolating
Social Distancing

Working from home

ICU

NHS

Thank you

Clapping

Lounge wear

Laptops

Masks

Board games (added from comment, thanks)

Anything else? Thanks for stopping by. Comments welcome.