I thought I’d start by saying that I write this diary not as a blow-by-blow account of daily happenings, instead this is more about my thoughts on the current situation, the reason being, I think it important to capture the essence of how we are all coping during these extraordinary and unique times.
So, how are you all feeling about the nearness of winter, and the increase in Covid cases, with the strong possibility of a return to lockdown? Because, yes, while it would appear that our government would rather that a full-lockdown does not happen, that might return. For the moment we now have (slightly) more restrictions on our lives than before (in England, anyway, and parts of it more than others) and we await the news to hear of the rapidly increasing cases, and live with the probability that there will be more restrictions coming soon.
I mean who would have forecast that this year would have been so challenging. And yet, we cope. So for this diary I touch on some of my month’s activities but I also offer you some thoughts on my coping strategies, and how we can all live with hope and the expectation that this will pass, because, really, it will, so hang on to that my friends 🙂
Well, I did a lot of reading and watching (more of that below) and we managed to visit our children plus one friend in their respective gardens. I now pop into our local shops, with a mask and without any fear. I give supermarkets a miss – that’s a step too far for me! I also pop into my two local charity shops and visit the wonderful Emmaus for the vintage clothes that they have, and wow, do I have some great finds from these forays to show you in my next couple of posts! I also went to the garden centre and intend to rethink and repot my little balcony for the winter. So all good, but just as I got my confidence back to do all this, the visits that I had planned to several friends are now on the back-burner. And sadly while my son-in-law teaches in a crowded classroom with no proper ventilation I shall also curtail our visits to that little family. Btw, I have my views on the pressure on our heroic teachers to perform and teach in not very ideal circumstances, and the confusing nature of our masters’ messages to our nation, but will absolutely stop there and keep that for the diatribe I shall one day write for My Other Blog!
I continue to talk to my friends and family on the phone, and via WhatsApp and FaceTime. But there’s not much more to report as these are such abnormal times. I mean, not even a trip to London! I think that as a couple, me and Mr F adapted well to the whole situation but like the majority of the population I have days when I feel a bit anxious and glum. So what to do? How do you cope? Here’s my thinking on the whole scenario.
The pragmatic/positivity stance I aim for:
As far as possible be reassured by the stats – the medics have learnt much and there are treatments for Covid in-patients that were not used at the beginning of the pandemic.
Ha! Because I didn’t start the year particularly healthily, but I have worked hard to get back to a healthier state, and that includes a daily walk, which is getting longer and longer, still under an hour, but it is now 3/4 of an hour non-stop brisk walking and that people is an achievement. I also have a weekly Zoom Pilates class and a 1-2-1 to work on strength and particular areas that need to be worked on. Do you remember I used to have a tilt to the right when I woke – that’s gone and all due to Pilates and a stronger core. Now I work on the shoulder stoop. And woo-hoo, every day I walk up 3 flights of stairs to my flat. Whatever, you know it is important to keep moving. Do so, in whichever way you find is best for you.
Don’t forget the flu vaccine, which is available now, albeit in the UK with a system of being called in to the surgery by letter. I got my jab 5 days ago because I had a face-to-face appointment for something else and had it there and then, and Mr F has decided not to wait for his letter but get one in a walk-in clinic at a local pharmacy.
Follow your instincts and not the crowd
Yes, only do what you are happy to do. And what’s more feel totally OK about that. I have noted that people have gone on holiday. (Oh the lucky few who have a second-holiday home.) No, I’m not going to book a stay cation. I do acknowledge that if this goes on well into 2021 I might revise my views, and might book a cottage in a quiet place. But I’d rather not. Nor have I gone into a restaurant. I think outside in a garden pub is fine, but inside, oh no. And don’t feel in any way, that you should be doing loads of activities and eating out to help out. If you don’t want to – don’t! However, see below.
Be kind to yourself
Because of our decision not to eat out, we have just recently decided to ‘eat in’. On Friday we are going to have a curry delivered to us, consisting of an aubergine curry, a dahl, rice and samosas, and all of this coming in four lovely metal tiffin containers. Oh wow, what joy, and this is going to be an on-going Friday event followed by a film. We aim to try this particular food delivery scheme every other week (we do like a curry) plus I simply must have some fish and chips delivered, and maybe a pizza. So excited.
Another way to be kind to yourself is within reason, don’t listen to the news. News is definitely all about disaster and of course, we are living through challenging times and the challenges are not only about this pandemic. I feel I must keep abreast of what this government is up to, plus there is the election over the pond. And I do, but if possible reign in the tendency to listen to the ‘news’. I was such a news junky, but no more.
Feed the mind
Did I say that last month I finished Hilary Mantel’s latest book, The Mirror and the Light? I love Mantell’s writing and felt this was as good as the other two in the Cromwell trilogy – in other words it was excellent. Rather devastated for her that she was not short-listed for the Booker. After that chunky book (it is long but every word is exquisite) in complete contrast I read a fairly light family saga by Santa Montefiore, The Secret Hours. It was good but not great. Currently reading The Singapore Grip by JG Farrell, which is being televised on ITV. I’m afraid to say the book is far superior to this series as the televised version can’t quite get at the subtleties and depth of Farrell’s ironic look at the last of Empire.
Other television that is outstanding, rather than the usual, it’s good but not brilliant (like the Mystery Road series to be found on BBC iPlayer) is Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip to be found on All 4. American followers do you know this man? He’s well known here for his eccentricity of dress (!), his pots and is in actual fact a near genius in my view! He has made many television series on British culture, and this time he turns his attention to the States. But please don’t think he’s superficial or in this to make us laugh, his empathy and understanding of people is just the business and so acute. If only people like him ran our country. This is television at its best.
We have watched several films, most of them instantly forgettable, but the last film we watched was very entertaining, it was Netflix’s Enola Holmes starring the young actor, Millie Bobby Brown. This is the story of Sherlock Holmes’ sister, Enola, and it was just delightful, with great acting coming from a number of British actors including Henry Cavill. The link leads to a review, which gives it 3*, personally I give it 4*. And hey people, at first I thought, wow, Millie Bobby Brown’s managing a great British accent, but people I did not know Millie Bobby Brown is British, you live and learn!
Talking about living and learning we have booked an online Guardian Masterclass with Hadley Freeman on Life Writing as both of us have ideas on writing about our families. Mr F has done a huge amount of family history and is wrestling with the story that he has to tell that will make sense of all his research, and I would like to return to writing my memoir. A class like this will stimulate the brain cells and they are really good value for money as well at, usually, £45.
Be more Norwegian
And hear this, apparently in Norway the further north people live the more they embrace the dark night of their cold winter without sun. In the far north of the country, Tromso has only two to three hours of below the horizon indirect sunlight (imagine!) yet the people living there do not have the depression that winter brings to so many who live further south. And this is because of their mindset that their dark winter is something they accept willingly as exciting and enjoyable.
Think of Keats’ Ode to Autumn, such a beautiful poem, with so many lines that catch your breath with their truth. Autumn is absolutely the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and winter too, has its beauty. Let us embrace the coming season rather than feeling the fear. No, we face it, and that change of season is exciting, plus, and I am going to be really superficial here, I so love my winter clothes! Can’t wait to wear leggings, thick socks and skirts and wooly tops – yes, bring on the cold weather!
Finally, every day I am thankful and pay tribute to the many good people working away on behalf of us all: and I include the people who deliver our post and all those online parcels to us as well as the researchers in labs working on the vaccines that might just end this. I say a big thank you to all those front-line personnel from nurses and doctors and pharmacists and teachers to the refuse collectors, I mean where would we be without those, they were and still are expected to work as normal throughout. Yes, there is so much hard work going on – hats off to the lot of them.
I leave you with this photo of a typical grey day in London. How I love that scene.
And more greyness, plus the mud-coloured Thames!
And absolutely finally, I’ve had this favourite £5 yellow coat dry-cleaned, and got out the green hat and scarf, which I don’t think I wore once last year.
The very next photo of this combo will be outside as I aim to wear the hat and scarf a lot.
Then there’s this jacket and don’t forget the studded boots. I do love my winter clothes!
That’s all for now, but, as ever, I really look forward to hearing your views on living through these unusual times.
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper
P.S. They say that great minds think alike, two bloggers that are favourites of mine, and probably yours, have written similar pieces. Gail of Is This Mutton and Tricia Cusden of Look Fabulous Forever have published posts that are all about facing the coming months with positivity – three cheers to both of them. It is so good to know we are all thinking along the same lines.