We’re in the seventh week of lockdown. The days seem to fly by, on some of them I’m a bisy backson (from Pooh, meaning busy back soon, in a note to rabbit left by Christopher Robin), running around and getting lots done, then on others I’m just so laid back I’m horizontal (literally, lying down reading a book and sipping tea).
The lazy days can be easily represented by a small pile of books, the first two are the ones still on the coffee table that I dip into on a regular basis, the others are the novels I’ve read since the last pile I shared with you.
Starting from the top
- The Almanac by Lia Leendertz is a lovely collection of facts for each month of the year, including nature notes, astronomical information, seasonal recipes and celebrations and other interesting facts.
- The Things you can see only when you slow down by Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk who shares advice about various aspects of life in terms of mindfulness, in a series of short messages. It is written beautifully and is perfect for dipping into.
- The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway is a work of fiction set during the siege of Bosnia’s capital in the 1990’s. Written as a series of criss-crossed narratives, a couple; the cellist and Arrow based on real people and the rest fictional. The prose is simple but almost unbearably evocative of the feelings of the individuals whose struggle for survival is set against the hope that the cellist’s music brings to this war blighted city.
- Farthing by Jo Walton is at heart a detective murder mystery. It has an alternative historic setting which imagines a different conclusion to the second world war. The horror builds as the book progresses and the layers of civility are peeled away. This is the first of a trilogy and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve ordered the following two.
- Once upon a river by Diane Setterfield is the story of a country inn on the river Thames towards Oxford where regulars tell tales to amuse themselves. One evening a stranger staggers into the inn carrying the body of a drowned child who later returns to life. No one knows who the little girl is or where she came from. This is richly imagined and multi layered story, with a gothic flavour.
To liven life up a little, we’ve had themed nights, so far Mexican with tequila cocktails, a pirate night, with Mojito cocktails, rum for pirates! and the latest, a Caribbean night, again we had Mojito’s, just because we love them. We also had a tasty vegetarian Creole style jambalaya…
At these ‘events’ we play themed music, and have a tiny party!
We’ve also tidied the garden up a bit lately, there’s nothing new in it, no garden centres are open and until this week our local garden centre hasn’t been delivering. With all the sun in April, the rain last week and the sun again this week, everything has exploded into leaf and flower and it’s looking very abundant. We grow nearly all our own herbs and have a good rhubarb patch this year (we’ve been eating lots of it). We have chard from last year, a great spinach substitute, which we throw in the pan at the last minute to add leafy greens to almost anything from chilli to lasagne. There’s also chicory and sorrel, lovely in salads, as is the lovage which adds a delicate celery flavour.
We moved the compost bin, re-sited to hide it behind a large rosemary bush. We regularly check the bug hotel and keep seeing bees backing out of it. We have several birds nesting in the garden and one, a blackbird, has nested in a Solanum crispum right outside the dining room window. We can’t chop it back until the hatched chicks have fledged, so now the dining room is looking greener by the day as the light filters through the leaves and then in through the window.
As for many others at this time, I’m finding myself being more resourceful. I make many of my own cosmetics, so I have the necessary ingredients to hand. I made a lovely eye cream, which is, in my opinion as good as anything I could buy in a shop. I keep old plastic pots so I can reuse them, you can just see that this was once a clinique cream, so much more expensive than mine!! This recipe is my own but there are lots of recipes to be found online for homemade cosmetics.
I also made some cotton masks, they are four layers thick, two layers of interfacing and cotton front and back and a metal strip over the nose. I’ve washed them and they wash well.
The latest fermented food, by Philip, was kimchi, a delightful mixture of shredded Chinese leaves and cauliflower leaves, together with chopped radishes, carrots, garlic, chilli, ginger, onion, a little sugar and salt (about 2 teaspoons of each) and a dash of Lea and Perrins sauce, all mixed by hand and fermented for three days. It’s delicious.
I’ve found time to make a few things in my shed and, as inspiration I’ve used the green man that hangs to the right of the shed door, I’m making small plaques, also earrings and necklaces. I’ve been using ceramic (yet to be fired and glazed) and polymer clay for the earring charms.
Despite the fact that we are staying positive here, I’m well aware that so many people’s lives have been affected by this and that the effects are going to be felt for so long. I often think about it and about those who are still working so hard, both in the NHS and in the supply chain, food shops, rubbish removal and many others. Also the lives that have been affected and still will be.
I’m grateful that when Philip developed a tooth abscess this week, he was able to get a telephone appointment with the GP, who prescribed antibiotics, without this he would have been really stuck.
These are times like no other, stay safe and keep positive.