Lots has been said about this current situation, about how we're all dealing with it in different ways, and I think that our way has definitely been to stay busy. During our 14 day self isolation usual routines were temporarily paused and so we've all had to create new ones to anchor us in these turbulent times. I have definitely struggled to relax and whenever I find myself starting to unwind I instantly feel guilty and think: you are not on holiday, what are you doing? Keep busy Gillian! But, at the moment - and certainly when the weather is so good - we have been using this time to work through some jobs that we had been meaning to tackle in the Easter holidays, and it's felt really good to spend time outside working each day and feel tired at the end of the day. It helps with the restlessness.
We jet washed and treated the decking, so that it's no longer a death trap in wet weather.
I have steadily worked my way around all corners of the back garden, front garden, both side paths, weeding and pruning and generally trying to impose some order. While I was doing that, John took apart our garden table which he made a few years ago, sanded and oiled it, then put it back together with a whizzy new tool (pocket jig?) that does something. I don't know. He was happy.
We have been collecting wood at every opportunity and throwing it in the wood store to be dealt with, and we finally got around to emptying all the wood out. John chopped it while I was his assistant, ferrying wood here and there, stacking the wood store. It was quite a work out.
Again, it's all about imposing order. The world might be in the grips of a huge pandemic, but our wood store is looking good!
We tiled a corner of the kitchen. Well, John did the tiling - I did everything around him like prepare meals, occupy children, make cups of tea, load and unload the washing machine, hoover up afterwards....
When we had this kitchen installed four years ago we opted to have a granite upstand instead of a splashback, thinking we would just wipe the paint above should it get dirty. This was a big mistake. Even the best kitchen and bathroom paint is not as scrubbable as a splashback in tile - or acrylic or stainless steel or whatever you choose - and the paint always looked marked and scuffed, especially around the food mixer which always gets splashed.
We had planned to do this job back in January when John decorated the kitchen, but ran out of time, so it was always something we'd intended to do. What we've done is tile the gap between the upstand and wall cupboards.
When we next have more time, we'll do the whole area behind the cooker and the worktop either side.
The garden, rewarding me for all the attention I've been lavishing on it, gave me the first cut flowers of the year. It was a ramshackle collection of tulips, muscari, hyacinths and a couple of tete-a-tetes that really were past their best, and it made me feel so hopeful and optimistic.
We also found chives, mint and sage that had survived the winter.
I was so pleased to be able to cut a few chives to sprinkle onto this fritatta, which I made from things I found languishing at the bottom of the fridge: potatoes, a green pepper, a few tomatoes and an onion. It was delicious.
I don't think we're particularly wasteful around food as a household, but since the lockdown I am now completely obsessed with not throwing any food away. All leftover meals are portioned up and put in the fridge or freezer, so lots of my lunches have been a small portion of say, last night's risotto, with some salad, and very nice that is too. A limp bag of spinach and dubious looking half-tub of creme fraiche became he most delicious, green soup. But the banana situation has gotten out of hand again. We usually get through four a day as we all take one to work or school, but at home we're not eating them. I'm still making banana bread as fast as they all eat it, but found this pancake recipe which I like. It's simply one mashed banana and two eggs, beaten together and fried like a normal pancake.
The lack of flour in this recipe is good because, and I don't know if you're the same, but I have really struggled to buy plain or strong white bread flour anywhere, and so I'm using what I have sparingly, mixing with rye or buckwheat where I can.
Other things to feel thankful for:
a garden and a trampoline
siblings that are getting along remarkably well all things considered
Ziggy, who is delighted to have all his people home so much and so many balls thrown in the back garden.
Our 14 days are over now and so John returns to work tomorrow, and I will on Thursday, although I think things all look and feel very different in our workplaces at the moment. But I've never looked forward to going to work so much in my life - a little bit of normality.