The new shopping experience and ideas for my future blog…

Apparently, in Italy, they had panic buying but after a couple of weeks the shops were fully stocked again and people calmed down. To be fair, I’ve been fairly lucky because David and I did a big shop before the panic started and were able to buy loo rolls and essentials. However, I understand it has been dreadful for people, particularly the elderly, vulnerable and health workers who have worked long shifts.

I can’t understand why people cannot shop as normal. Food shops won’t close even in a lockdown situation. Apparently, the supermarkets are employing temporary staff. Anyway, recently I had a bad day, full of anxiety and decided to go to our local farm shop. It was fully stocked with fruit, vegetables, pickles, mayonnaise, salad, wine, beer, ham, bacon and it was quiet. Bliss!!!

When I told my friend, she could shop the first hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to our local supermarket, she informed me she was going to make use of her local grocers and the farm shop ‘because we don’t want to lose it’. Very sensible.

So, thought I’d remind people there are other options other than supermarkets:

Tips:
Go to your local shops
Farm Shops
Garden Centre (Ours has an excellent meat counter)
Small ‘I sell everything’ grocers
Pubs/Restaurants are now selling takeaways
Order online (which I’ve only done once, and hated)*
Click and Collect*

*These options don’t appear to be available at the moment. Panic buying!

After this post, I will be writing most days a diary type blog. I think it is vital to record what you are feeling, doing and seeing.

Update: David ventured forth to the local middle sized supermarket and remarked that ‘it wasn’t too bad.’ Although still didn’t have loo rolls and limited brands. Perhaps, the nincompoops now have enough sanitiser, baby food, wipes, washing powder, ready meals, etc. Let’s hope so.

Thanks for reading my blog.

 

Hastings Old Town

The Home Workout

Sunday…

Today I decided to do a home workout. Luckily, we’ve some dumbbells and kettlebells, a mat and some knowledge from years of going to a local gym. However, you don’t need equipment or knowledge. There are plenty of inspiring experts around on the internet especially YouTube. Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) is doing a school fitness session every morning Mon – Friday, at 9 am. He has loads of videos on Youtube too.
I’ve been doing the home workouts for a few weeks and quite enjoy the exercise. What better way to strengthen your immune system from the comfort of your own home. Also, it is a healthy pursuit which passes the time because it is boring when you can’t go to the pub. A home workout will, with some effort, improve strength, performance, and endurance.
Plus, although I do actually like going to the gym there are some advantages. You don’t have to worry about a wardrobe malfunction, you won’t have to endure an I.T. degree to work out the equipment, and if you fall asleep on the yoga mat (through boredom) no one will know!

“I walked into, and knocked over, a Christmas tree at a yoga studio… admittedly it was a “yoga” styled tree (i.e. some twigs with lights on them). I couldn’t put it back together. I ruined the zen of the studio and my ego.” – Diane

If you are just beginning, start slowly as you don’t want an injury now! You can use other things for weights such as a tin of beans (if you can get them) or a filled up a bottle of milk. Use the milk and fill it with water, of course. Don’t slosh water over your face whilst exercising (or your hands, which you’ve washed eight times before breakfast).
To get my sleepy limbs going, the warm up usually involves some protracted movement and moaning but when I’m in the swing of it, I quite enjoy the exercise, believe it or not. Also, it helps me build a routine into the day.
Make sure you do a good warm-up to get you firing on all cylinders. Some days are better than others. This morning I felt quite decrepit but kept persevering. Yes, you guessed it, I had a few glasses of wine last night.
My routine involves:
Warm-up
Kettlebell exercises
Stair exercises
General exercises (without weights)
Dumbell exercises
Gentle Yoga type stuff
Stretch
Relax Mindfully

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Ideas (whilst we can)

I thought I’d better start with this topic because it is important. Especially at the moment. Disclaimer: I’m not a qualified health professional, so these are my ideas.

I’m focusing on coping mechanisms over the next few weeks which I hope will be helpful. Rather than wallowing in thoughts, as prone to do, it is better to be proactive.

A family member suggested I write again, so here goes. The best way to prepare is a plan so I’ve made a list of stuff (see yesterday’s list) but may also be inspired by some online education, virtual tours with an imposed virtual social life. This is going to be a tough period but we have to make the best of it.

As I’m trying not to struggle mentally, I feel it is vital to plan, in some gentle way, what you can do in the coming weeks. Even if you aren’t into the natural environment, now is the time to make changes to your routine and try ways of getting some fresh air and find your ideal space and interests. It’s easy to sit around and become bored so google some local green spaces or just check out some old maps you’ve probably got lying around. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been struggling too!!

As we can still go out, in some capacity, we should. Obviously, avoid busy places. Although, they don’t exist anymore. I’ve been going to the local park, woodland walks and wandering around the village.

The local park has a beautiful tranquil lake with plenty of space, away from others. It’s a few minutes’ drive so I usually take Oscar, a friend’s dog, as it has elegant wild grassy slopes, flowers, trees, fields, streams and is not too muddy. A great place to be mindful with magnificent views across the lake.

However, yesterday, I just went for a solitary walk through my local woods. This is great because it is a 5-minute walk from my home. Nothing like a woodland walk to calm your worries. I didn’t go with my friend’s dog so just walked along the top path near housing. It was quite special hearing the birds, seeing the blossom, walking through copious amounts of mud, taking photographs and not seeing anyone. It felt good for the soul and safe. I was going to go back along the road but realised the school would be finishing so turned around and ventured back the  way I had come. I tend to walk for about an hour, quite briskly to get the old heartbeat up. I take my phone, but only because I nearly got lost in our local woods a few years ago. Apart from emergencies, I tend to ignore it and I’d rather not have it on me.

Of course, not everyone has a park or woods near them. I would suggest a speedy walk along the pavements. Try to go when it is quiet (early morning/evening). I’ve had people walk round me into the road so as not to walk past me!

Walking can help mental health and overcome feelings of anxiety and creates a feeling of being with nature in a natural environment. It is useful to see what is around you and listen more and notice more than you normally do.

Most people have parks, woodland or green spaces near them which will have a positive effect. Go on, give it a go.

Tips:
Look on local maps and explore local green spaces
Walk for at least half an hour
Don’t look at your phone
Enjoy the peace and quiet
Submerge yourself in your surroundings – Be mindful, visually and be aware of the audible range

Walking – Why you should do both countryside and city walks…

So now I’m back from my travels and everything is back to normal, I’m realising a revival of two pastimes which I’ve always loved. Reading and long walks.

This year, the walks have become more prevalent and enjoyable. I’m fact, it was something I was looking forward to returning to, when gallivanting around the world. Walking with Oscar, through the cold, winter countryside. Yes, really. I do actually love where I live. Do you?

Also, amongst the wandering around my local area, I’ve gone walking with a walking group and a jaunt up to busy old London too!

The walking group went around East Malling and even though it was a cold day we were lucky enough to have some sunshine and it was quite glorious. Love walks like this because they are so invigorating and the English landscape is so flipping wonderful. It is good for the soul.

The London walk was from the book Walking London -Soho to Trafalgar Square. As much as I love walking around local farmland, orchards and woodlands, the London walks (or any interesting city) are gratifyingly fascinating too. Particularly, if you follow a written walk and it is a good way to investigate hidden city gems as well.

During the stroll, it became obvious Soho isn’t a red light district anymore but a cosmopolitan blend of cafes, fashionistas, theatre and quirky historical areas juxtaposed with modernity such as the BT tower.

On the corner of Scalia Street is Pollocks Toy Museum. Benjamin Pollock 1937, and is one of the last producers of toy theatre scenery. Strolling down the back streets, with pretty gardens, pubs and wine bars is great as you try aimlessly to imagine how unglamorous it would have been, just a century before.

Soho is now a busy place. The whole area has improved and it is great to see the busy emporiums amongst the historical architecture. We devoured coffee and cake and decided we must frequent Ronnie Scott’s club (below), before too long…

The main aspects of this jaunt included Berwick Street Market, Broadwick Street, birthplace of William Blake, Carnaby Street, China Town, the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square.

China town is colourful with the red lanterns and leads you into the always manic Leicester Square.

Must admit to really enjoying a long city walk and looking at all of the sights. A self guided walk is the best solution to independently experiencing the city and even if you live near it, there will always be surprises in store for you. Also, places change. Soho has made radical changes during recent times. Walking and exploring is free, environmentally friendly and good exercise. Can highly recommend doing both countryside and city walks.

Nash’s Arcade (above)

 

 

 

Minimalism – Podcasts and the Concept of Ownership…

Podcasts

I’ve really started to enjoy pounding the treadmill in the gym. Not just because I want to get fit, although after my over indulgence in Cornwall it is necessary, but to enjoy the world of the Podcast. I’ve recently listened to various podcasts on Spotify, YouTube, BBC World Service and BBC 4 (list below).

Minimalism

As I was running, I became particularly interested in The Minimalists’ views about curation and ownership which is more thought provoking than it sounds. The fundermental starting point is this article:

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-08-12/american-ownership-society-is-changing-thanks-to-technology

Tyler Cowen is concerned because Americans own less stuff. Will this stagnate the economy? Cowen clearly thinks it will. It does question whether owning stuff is a good thing or not. Listening to The Minimalists’ podcast, raises several interesting points.

Due the new concepts such as Kindle, we do not own so many books. We don’t buy DVDs or videos like we used to because now we have such things as Netflix. Spotify and or YouTube caused us to stop buying CDs. Apparently, and this did surprise me, car ownership is decreasing because people now  travel more and by bike, taxi (Uber), use public transport or walk. Cowen argues that the American dream to own things like cars is dwindling in favour of urban living, and greater reliance on the above mentioned.

This fascinates me because I’d never realised how little we do actually own nowadays in terms of these products, or even thought about it. I agree, this is a good thing. People still own stuff, but not as much. Not having to buy books, albums, DVDs and cars is beneficial. Just having your favourite books, albums (vinyl is making a come back), DVDs, etc, does suggest an organised way of living and provides the freedom to disengage from the extraneous stuff. Just have what brings value.

When I was growing up, everyone disliked the idea of renting possessions such as homes, cars and even televisions. This has changed, particularly with the younger generation. It is better for the environment to buy and keep good quality clothing, borrow/rent cars and live in smaller homes. Seriously, you only need so much stuff. Americans losing the connection with ownership is a good thing although don’t think it has happened …yet?

Focusing towards a sharing community is better isn’t it? Who wants all the gym equipment in their house? Do we really need a massive TV and a home theatre? Much better to go to a gym, see a play/film and chat with others. This is what life is about. Doing stuff rather than accumulating things. Going out and about and experiencing stuff.

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.                                    The Minimalists… (Joshua Fields Milburn, Ryan Nicodemus)

Cowen argues private ownership gives us a stake in the system. Yes, and it may force hard work rather than meaningful work. As mentioned on the podcast, we never really own anything; we just pass it on after 80 years anyway. This way of thinking is ambiguous, although thought provoking. The concept of ownership does remain important. However, the thing is not to become too used to excessive possessions. I advocate looking at your surroundings as a stranger would. Recently, I wondered why I still have a big table in my kitchen when I could replace it with something useful.

Obviously, some things are essential like a car, books, photography gear and furniture. But if you are short on time and have busy schedules, then it maybe a good idea to evaluate what you actually use and need day to day.

I am well aware people will read this, and think haven’t got time to worry about stuff. But having just returned from a break in Cornwall and unpacked my little case, in about five minutes, think again. Why have I been taking a massive suitcase with me all these years? It was great to return home without loads of stuff. (Although still have a shoe issue…)

As a minimalist you still own stuff but only what brings value. It creates simplicity and purpose and removes everything that distracts us from good experiences. Wish I’d realised this years ago because it saves so much time and energy although still working on it.

In fact, views about owning a property are slightly changing. Unfortunately, in the UK rents are extortionate so the whole process is challenging. People try to invest in a property in a cheaper area, part own a property or rent. Also, it is popular now to save and live frugally and invest in a future without being tied, long term, to a job you hate. The main premise then is possibly having a decent space (living area) with the minimal sleeping area and fewer possessions. Do not let the stuff own you. Ultimately, people may prefer to own a property and accumulate wealth or rent and not have the responsibility of ownership. Not everyone wants ‘a stake in the system’. They may just want to do what suits them and be a part of a community and contribute. This does seem common nowadays with the notion of online work, charities and so on.

Overall, focus on what is needed and brings value. I’m still thinking about that dining table and why I take several pairs of shoes on holiday but there is no such thing as the perfect ‘minimalist’ or for that matter, environmentalist or anything else. This podcast is thought provoking and does advocate a changing society.

Any comments are welcome and hope you enjoyed my musings about life.

Sources:

https://www.theminimalists.com/p146/

Podcasts I enjoy…

The Minimalists/Happier/The Dr’s Kitchen (Spotify)

Health Check/The Infinite Monkey Cage/Crowd Science/Business Matters/World Book Club (BBC)

Cap d’Antibes – Coastal Walk

This walk captures the beauty of the Cote d’Azur and is a superb way of ingratiating yourself into the natural environment of this area. Plus the simple fact that your can park for free at the Plage de la Garoupe beach and then feed your soul with the magnificent 5k walk. It only takes about a couple of hours and is well worth doing. The walk can be rocky in places so do wear trainers or sensible footwear.

Cote d’Azur is known for magnificent properties, manicured gardens and superfluous wealth but this walk is surprisingly simple and enjoys a wild natural landscape. Also, you have the Mercantour National Park and the Estérel mountains to savour as you scramble carefully over the rocks.

On one occasion, I nearly fell because I was so busy looking at the clear blue sea, mountains, flowers and resplendent landscape. Parts of the path are properly built pathways but then dissipate into rocks, beach, and steep steps so can be precarious.

The limestone cliffs are very pretty because they are covered in glorious vivid flora, olive trees, exotic cacti and the cumbersome agaves. The blend of crystal clear blue water, rocky coves and mother nature is spectacular.

The final part of the walk is along a road called Avenue de Beaumont and then along Avenue de la Tour Gandolphe. Make time to enjoy the gardens and general serene landscape of this gorgeous vicinity, and then when you locate the beach, you can then enjoy some refreshment at the beach café and languish some more. Great fun.

Chilham, Bluebells and Whitstable

Chilham Castle in the distance…

 

We decided to venture out for a day in Chilham for a bluebell walk which was organised by the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry). Luckily, we were blessed with a warm, sunny day and arrived an hour early due to my husband’s keenness for punctuality! The village is small with a medieval square overlooked by the impressive and imposing Chilham Castle. We wandered around hoping to find a tea shop open for a quick cuppa, but nothing opened until ten o’clock. They maybe missing a business trick here. It didn’t matter, it is wonderful to stroll around and take photos including the Tudor houses and St. Mary’s Church.

Chilham

Everyone arrived and met at Shelly’s tea shop, which was also irritatingly shut, and we introduced ourselves and ventured forth towards King’s Wood. The landscape and woodland around Chilham is truly exquisite and the bluebells just seem to become more impressive as the walk continued.

The walking folks were very friendly and I discussed my interest in health and fitness with a lady called Kate who was into fitness and yoga, and a possible hope to do a charity 10k run in the Autumn. Everyone, was very encouraging, but I’m still considering the challenge because trust me, it will be a massive task for me.

Some scientific conversations did ensue and we heard an interesting story about how nerve gas doesn’t dissipate into the atmosphere and could be doing the rounds on our currency! Then we were told a tale about when currency is scientifically examined, all sorts of drug traces are found…

The walk was fun and it is always interesting to chat to new people and hear their take on life. The views are incredible around Chilham and I’m sure the castle is well worth a visit too.

Whitstable…

 

After we had our lunch, we drove to Whitstable and after eventually parking the car, we wandered along the sea front. My goodness, it was busy. Apparently, this is where London people go to at the weekend. In other words, it has become the trendy place to visit. It shows too. All the old huts and houses have been painted and refurbished and of course, the property prices have, no doubt, shot up.

To be fair, it is a great place to visit with the selection of arty galleries, shops, (micro) pubs, restaurants, etc. We have decided to come back on a week day to explore properly and hopefully it won’t be quite so busy.

All in all a fabulous day out and I can’t wait to go back to Chilham and Whitstable.

Oyster stall..