Monday, 30 March 2020

Keeping Busy

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. 


  1. A lovely post Gillian & like you it all feels very surreal at the moment & although we are retired, nothing seems normal. You've certainly made the most of your time & done plenty of catching up on the DIY. The pancakes sound delicious & I waste very little too, but am being even extra thrifty. I couldn't get either SR or plain flour yesterday when I did my on-line order,(my first ever). I'm enjoying all the photos being posted at the moment of either everyday stuff & outings from the past etc. on blogs I follow. Love seeing your garden coming to life as mine is going to sleep. Take care, stay safe & huggles from down under.

  2. Are the restrictions lifting in the UK? We are mostly at home here in Canberra and only essential services are going to work.

  3. Restrictions have just become more... restrictive over here, so we don't know yet when shops will open again and (most) people can go back to work.
    Everything you have done to keep busy has made your home even more beautiful than before, inside and out.
    Love the banana pancake - there's an idea I might try next weekend.

  4. Ah, how lovely to find a fresh post from you - and it all does look so fresh as well, with the sunshine and spring flowers and a lovely clean and bright home. It's my respite from our grey, cold (snow!), wet (sleet!) world, and a house that is a building site and with camping out living arrangements. Thank you for the tile advice - really good to know as we plan our new kitchen finish. I've chosen the tiles -, thanks to seeing this photo on a friend's Instagram. We went and visited their self catering cottage to see them in situ, and were convinced.
    I am being very sparing with food - easier to do as I only have adults to feed! My husband managed to get plain flour yesterday and it was like a miracle! My fledgling tourist guiding business has of course come to a complete stop and may not get going again this year depending on how willing my mainly North American client base is to travel to Europe once restrictions are lifted. I do miss being economically productive, but there's a lot to do just keeping daily life going.
    Thanks again for such a lovely post.

  5. What a lovely post. It is refreshing to be able to keep busy and get on top of all those jobs that we 'have meant to get on with' for so long isn't it, but I am just coming around to the idea that becoming 'un-busy' is now my way forward. Some gentle pottering rather than a list of jobs to work through.

    Love your photographs, they sum up family life in these strange times so well.

  6. What an uplifting post . we are just n day 2 of isolation x

  7. I'm with you on the tiles! Like you we opted for a painted finish, with a glass splashback behind the cooker. One day I touched the splashback with a pan and it broke. So we tiled. Much easier to keep clean. Love the thrifty pancakes. I'm rationing flour but I'm told there is some about. And yeast! There's only me here and I never got the hang of 'small cooking' so my freezers are groaning with leftovers!

  8. It is special that your children love each other and get along. Miss mine incredibily, both at the uni, the youngest had the corona virus and I wasn't allowed to go to him.What a devastating thing. And gardening brings the mind at ease so I made my hands dirty. Glad you both can go to work, here home working it is.

  9. ooh I had not thought of pancakes for soft bananas - we have eaten so much banana cake.Good luck at work - working in a quiet school is really weird. xx

  10. A lovely post, you have certainly been busy. Your tile looks great and so do those pancakes. I can't wait to get out in the garden again. I live in upstate New York in the US and we are under a stay home order until April 30th. We can only leave home to purchase food, medical appointments (most of which have been cancelled) and solitary exercise. These are trying times, but we are making the best of it and hoping it all ends sooner rather than later. Stay safe and well.

  11. What a lovely post, Gillian and very uplifting. All is right in Ziggy’s world, bless him! I’m definitely going to try your banana pancakes!

  12. Thank you for the leftover Bananas Pancake Recipe, I'm Loving these Lock Down Recipes everyone is Sharing! Be Well and Stay Safe and at Home!

  13. Enjoyed reading your blog, take care x


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