It is day 53 of #stayhome for me, 48 days since the UK went into full lockdown. I know it sounds like it, but this isn't the beginning of a really cliche zombie apocalypse story, this is actually my update from (currently) sunny Bristol.
It's hard to know what to write, to be honest. I'm okay, doing fine, I'm well. And some moments I'm not totally okay, I'm anxious/angry/frustrated, or I'm not entirely sure if I'm well. But those are only moments. What I'm trying to say, and you may well be feeling it too, is that my feelings are up and down in a normal, healthy way that can be expected from being mostly in the same place 24 hrs a day for 53 days. And that will reflect in my writing. It's not all vibez high today peeps but it's also not vibez low... kinda like how you must stay inside at all times but you can also go out lol!
Every time I speak to someone, and that's becoming more of a rarity as time goes on, they ask me the same question. What's been keeping me busy/sane? And judging by my facebook feed -which, admittedly, is becoming increasingly dull between the conspiracy theories and fake news- it's much the same as everyone else. Doing up the house, baking/cooking, Netflix (special shout-out for Joe Exotic and Carol f*cking Baskin). I'm also lucky enough to be working from home and lucky is the right word, because otherwise I'd go insane.
When lockdown kicked off for the UK, I felt a small shot of panic through me. Not because of the pandemic, not because I disagreed with the measures, but because the option was suddenly taken away. It didn't take long for me to realise that actually -being an introvert at the core- working from home, seeing less people and managing a more distant social life is marginally closer to my dream scenario. The full dream scenario involves a beach and a hammock, but you get the picture.
There's a fine balance when you live alone, between being alone, and being lonely. Thankfully, I haven't yet been subject to the latter as I've had friends from all around who reach out to me, zoom me, send me thoughtful "quarantine gifts" (let's make this a thing people), and even do my shopping when I can't go queuing for two hours at ASDA myself (special shout out to Hels & Jon - thank you!).
Now the other side of the coin, talk of the slow return to normality, gives me a small shot of panic as I realise that I'm not ready to start fully socialising again. I've been nestling in a cocoon of recluse and breaking out will be no easy task. Anyone else feeling this way? (Where my introverts at? Holla!)
So, instead of focusing on the "how?" I'm going to focus on now! And right now, I have some pretty cool lockdown wins to share. And I bet some of you are DYING to see what I've been up to (oh really? none of you? oh... okay), so here's the update you've all been waiting for (seriously, not even one?).
Adventure in the Woods
So I'll start with the long weekend in April which I had because I'd booked off the Friday from work for a wedding that was sadly cancelled. I had all the good intentions of the day set, I'd go out for my daily walk making the most of the sunshine, I'd come home and bake some (more) banana bread, I'd do a bit more painting and maybe watch a movie.
And then, I opened the fridge and noticed (as if for the first time) an unopened bottle of Prosecco. Ahh, I thought to myself, just a little toast to the happy couple on what would have been their big day. A toast turned into three, or however many, and my daily walk commenced... somewhat in a bit more of a zig-zag.
I don't know how far I went off-route, but soon I was by a beautiful river, prosecco bottle in hand, wandering through the woods. Lost. I know what you're thinking, "this is so unlike Mary", except if you know me, then you must already know there's more to the story. And there is, so much more. But let's just say this, I climbed a tree, got stuck trying to get down, was lost for quite a while, lay/fell on the floor for a little while and eventually found my way safely home (where I proceeded to zoom some friends and then cry in a bathtub - not at the same time).
Yeah, sure, judge me if you want. But if I can ever remember where I went, that will be a nice walk sometime.
Trooper's Hill & Magpie Bottom
Speaking of walks, one great lockdown win is having the chance to discover my local neighbourhood on these 'daily' walks. I say 'daily' because, truthfully, I've become so much of a recluse, I barely leave the flat now. Whether for the better or not, I don't know.
But when I have taken the opportunity to explore, I've discovered, to my delight, that there are magical little pockets less than five minutes from home.
Magpie bottom is one such pocket, a nature reserve stretching from Kingswood to Hanham, with a long stream stretching its length. As I stroll through the park, the sun plays over the water in the pond that breaks the reserve into two trails, joined by a small wooden bridge. I hear small ducklings splashing about as I see them swimming away from their mother in some kind of duckling game.
Trooper's Hill is another magical pocket - though more a valley between hills than a pocket. This incredible place though surrounded by residential homes, instantly swallows you up into it's own little nature sanctuary so you forget the surrounding houses.
Steep inclines and low winding footpaths make it easy for me to get lost in nature and feel as though I'm in another world. The Lord of the rings, maybe or some sort of army practise ground. A monument at the highest point of the hill reminds me of where I am relative to my surroundings and when I climb to the highest point nearest to me, I have a panoramic view of Bristol.
Well, you're not in lockdown if you haven't had a go at a bit of interior design with your living space. I'm not the exception. Since my last post, regular parcels have been arriving each with something new and exciting to add to my fridge or my home generally. One of my latest and most exciting additions is my new BT Smart Hub giving me Wifi!
Yeah, that's right, until now I have had no internet and have solely been hotspotting with my phone. I can't tell you how slow it's made everything, and therefore how frustrating it's been but I'm pleased to finally have broadband.
I've also moved the 'dining table' to use as a desk which is now permanently set up in my living room.
I have curtains! Yeah I genuinely lived 3 months without curtains (other than one singular voille curtain in my bedroom which was pretty see-through).
My avocado family has grown rather dramatically... which is also a reflection on how much avocado I've been consuming. One has finally sprouted (after like 6 weeks).
I added a rail in to my bedroom, although it certainly was not the quality I was hoping for from an ebay bargain (it couldn't stand straight against the wall even before I added clothes). Thankfully I was refunded half the price and they let me keep it.
Finally, I bought a £70 lampshade for my living room. And there's been some controversy over this, many suggesting that £70 for a lampshade is steep. Others agreeing that for a focal piece, £70 is a fair spend.
What do you think?
Like some people, I've taken the chance to explore my creativity although I'm largely lacking in talent. I enjoy a little tinker on the guitar from time to time and I brush up on my duo lingo Spanish here and there. Since I was been given a "Painting by Numbers" set, I've been working on this masterpiece nearly daily. It's been well over a month and I'm still not done... and I started on the practise sheet which I realised isn't even a practise sheet! I will have to start the real thing soon!
I've been doing some reading, I finished "What Alice Knew" which was a Bristol-based thriller and quickly finished "The Girl in the Red Coat", another thriller written by a Bristol based author. Next up is "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" which I'm guessing she's not.
I've also been trying new recipes/ideas in my cooking and baking. And let me tell you, my baking is usually terrible - my cooking significantly better comparatively. My first couple of attempts at banana bread were more doughy than not, then I did a hybrid carrot/banana loaf which turned out amazingly! Since, I've tweaked my banana bread just enough to bring out a decent texture.
I've finally put the coconut flour in my cupboard to good use making paleo, dairy free brownies. To my surprise, they actually tasted great although more cake-like in consistency than brownie-like. Not having proper baking trays meant using ceramic casserole dishes instead.
I've remained part-time vegan making a vegan Chilli sin Carne, guacamole, and garlic bread with soya yogurt and vegan cheese. And when my colleague in York became semi-famous for finding a big chip, I wondered if I'd find similar fame in Bristol with a sweet potato equivalent.
So that's just a snippet of what I've been doing. But I've been up to loads more, including actually working out (whatt?!) and dying my hair.
I'll leave you with this freshly-dyed-hair selfie...
Ciao Peeps! x