How are you all? Are you self-isolating? Or distancing? Or going to work? Hats off to all the workers that, just maybe, some of them, we took for granted in that other more normal life that seems to have disappeared into the ether. I’m thinking not only of our wonderful NHS workers but also the people who work in supermarkets and small food stores. How we underestimated their hugely essential services.
We are self-isolating, albeit still going out to the little shops we have nearby (although I’m beginning to think maybe we shouldn’t) and then on to a walk on the prom. Of course, all the coffee shops, hairdressers, pubs plus the quirky vintage and charity shops are closed but we do have a little supermarket (Co-op), a butcher, a baker and a deli, all of which allow only two people in at any one time. That means queues outside, but people in this part of Brighton are keeping their 2-metre distance. But whatever you’re doing, these are anxious times so here are some thoughts on these strange days.
How to occupy yourself. We do have a good routine going. The morning is taken up with writing, admin, and making a home-made soup, plus stretching and strengthening exercises. My Pilates teacher is using Zoom to teach an online Pilates class, which Mr F did. I don’t yet have quite the energy to do this, my recovery is slow and I must be patient. Anyway, one day I went out in the morning to get to our local butcher and I didn’t like the way the afternoon stretched out in front of me. I like to go out in the afternoon and then come back to a cup of tea and a hot cross bun (got some of those during the week). We also allow ourselves to watch one hour of daytime telly, usually Homes Under the Hammer!
Although I haven’t got sufficient oomph to do an hour-long Pilates class the energy needed to write has returned and I’m back most mornings on my laptop. I made plans over Christmas to write a memoir. Last week I tinkered with the structure and began the writing of it.
I’m aiming to get a kit with wool and a knitting pattern to get back to being someone who makes things. And I read: still not tackled Hilary Mantel’s latest, but it’s lovely to see that huge book waiting for me! Otherwise I have read the entire China thriller series (6 books) written by Peter May, but need a break from that type of book. See Gail Hanlon’s blog of This is Mutton fame for some reading. Also this for some ‘stylish’ reading suggestions. Then it’s cooking an evening meal from scratch which brings me to,
Food. I am not blaming the panic buying on the general population. There was time to plan for the increase in demand, but I’m afraid the UK really was a bit slow to organise and prepare for this unprecedented event. Think about it, the population has been told to stay at home. Consequently, children are not eating a lunch at school, workers are not eating out and grabbing that sandwich, couples are not going out to restaurants in the evening, and those of us lucky enough to be retired with sufficient funds are not going out for that coffee or lunch with friends. I read somewhere that 30% of all food is (now was) consumed outside the home. But we’re all at home and need more food in the house and it just isn’t available. And for those of us who are over-70, who have been told to distance ourselves from crowds, food deliveries collapsed.
I didn’t realise that online deliveries were at a very low level in the UK at 7% of all food sales. I wonder what the demand is for it now? As I said in my last post I’ve been getting my food delivered to my door from Sainsbury’s for over a decade and as I shop online nearly every week I have a delivery pass. But now? It’s very tricky getting a delivery. Last week Sainsbury’s website told me I was not considered vulnerable so I wouldn’t be getting any more deliveries. I tried to phone but there was nothing but recorded messages and they repeat what’s on the website that if you think you are vulnerable go to the government’s website and register, which I have done. I must say that as I know some over-70s who are getting a delivery from Sainsbury’s I wasn’t happy with their attitude towards a loyal and long-time older (and vulnerable) customer. Neither of us want to queue up with the crowds, and nor should we. But hoorah, yesterday there were a few slots available for today (quite late in the evening) and I got one of those – yay and big cheer.
I do by the way have some basic (cooked) mince in the freezer waiting to be turned into either a spag bol sauce, a chili, or a cottage pie, plus home-made soups and other home-cooked meals, but you do begin to run out of stuff. Over the weekend it was onions, carrots and green veg! On Saturday Mr F went to get the newspaper and our little Co-op was bare – nothing on the shelves. But in the afternoon we popped out to the local deli and stocked up. We’ll be fine. But not everyone is. Also I wonder what will happen to supplies from Italy and Spain. It’s a sobering thought that the UK imports half its food and the just-in-time method of food supply is, in actuality, fragile.
But on the positive side it is heart-warming to see local initiatives of people coming together and forming self-help groups to deliver food to the vulnerable in their locality. Really, most people are good and kind and think ‘how can I help?’ I salute you all. Btw, I see a lot of these groups on Facebook. There you are, another reason to not distrust social media. There is a good side to everything 🙂
The evenings – how to occupy those hours now we can no longer socialise with others? I expect some of you do jigsaws, play games, and/or do craft in the evenings but we’re very into watching stuff on our television which is equipped to download and stream. And we don’t watch television in real time, instead it’s mostly box sets – just finished Series 3 of Peaky Blinders (Netflix) then there’s Better Call Saul (Netflix) the prequel to Breaking Bad, which is a very fine watch indeed. We’re also watching Babylon Berlin and Westworld Series 3 on Now tv. Geez, I watch a lot of obscure stuff but that latter series is a bit baffling, nevertheless, I still like it. Also anything Scandi Noir (usually found on BBCiPlayer) is very much us, plus I also get other foreign box sets from Walter Presents. And oh my word, we’ve watched a lot of films on Netflix and Amazon. There’s a humungous amount of dross out there but equally there are some gems including old favourites like Alan Bennett’s The History Boys. The Report starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening is to be highly recommended. Many films have delayed their release but some that came out in March are coming on stream earlier than usual, e.g. Emma, but they’re not the usual £4.99 instead they’re priced at £9.99 so I’ll wait for the cost to come down.
Beauty and clothes – It is important to keep up standards. I do not slump on the settee in leggings or a worn tracksuit. I dress well, but have found that a lot of my clothes are for going into town and meeting people (tight pencil skirts, some of them short) or for a party (edgy and/or frilly skirts). Items for sitting around in are rather few and far between in my wardrobe. Throughout January when I was unwell I had only two skirts suitable for the little I did in the flat. These were worn with leggings but gosh, did I get sick of them. I now wear jeans. There’s a lot in my wardrobe that’s going unworn at the moment. When this is all over I’m going to wear far more frilly and quirky stuff and not keep them for parties 🙂
And of course, no beauticians are open at the moment. You might think how frivolous, but it is part of my lifestyle to have one or two appointments every month for nails, maybe a facial and always the hair removal including waxing and electrolysis. The one appointment I was able to make (in early March) in the small window of opportunity I had between me recovering sufficiently to get out, and the coronavirus lockdown was an electrolysis appointment. I said, ‘see you in a months time’. Oh calamity, I shall have some whiskers by the time we’re let out!
There are three appointments I never got to: my dentist; my chiropodist; and my hairdresser – my hair is going to get really, really long!
I’ve stopped buying clothes online as I found that half of the items had to be returned and that’s such a faff, and now I don’t want to go the Post Office. But at some point I will show you what I bought. Also just before they closed I bought two items from a charity shop: a coat and another quirky skirt 🙂 You will see those when I’m up to taking photos.
Technology – we are keeping in touch with friends and family through various technological means. Thank goodness for WhatsApp and FaceTime. We haven’t used Skype yet. Are you au fait with these? We hadn’t used them before but knew of them. At first we had a few wobbles but there will be a steady learning curve over the coming months and I’m sure we will become really familiar with and good at using the apps.
The online society – as we know online shopping has soared and all the little shops nearby ask you not to pay with cash and use only cards. It must be sobering for those who do not trust online purchases, or the use of contactless cards and perhaps do not have a mobile. It was going that way anyway, but now the online cashless society has been rapidly accelerated some are going to be very, very left behind. What are your thoughts on that?
Questions – what did I say in the past? Face the reality. Ha blooming ha. I found the reality of facing a seriously out-of-control heart exceedingly frightening. And now? These are anxious days and nights. I’m not sleeping particularly well. There is much to think about. I’d love you to read this. The Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore has written a very profound article on our situation and as I know not all of you click onto the links I’m giving you a direct quote from the end of her piece:
The poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke knew about uncertainty. He told us to stop looking for answers and to learn to love the questions, “like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language”. We don’t know what is going to happen. “At present you need to live the question.”
Yes, we live in such uncertainty there is no point in trying to reach for certainty and answers, just look at our experts floundering around, but we can ask ourselves, and of our society, what will our lives be like after this pandemic, can we change, can we continue the reduction in pollution, can we live differently? Can we? I find that quite exciting and inspirational – to ask.
That’s all for now. I do hope you are keeping well.
Until the next post, much love to you all
Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper
P.S. Pix of outside 🙂
Christmas day, 2019