How to while away those dark locked down evenings when there's nowhere to go and no-one to see
(originally published 15th January 2021)
As I write this I am sitting in my dining room trying to referee three home schooling children whilst also researching ways of better point of sale systems for integrating my online shop with the physical shop. Neither of these tasks especially fills me with much enthusiasm so in reality I'm staring out the window at the rain and thinking about what I'm going to do later on after "work", (by which I currently mean after 9pm, sigh).
I've never been the sort of person who does nothing. I'm not very arty but I am quite creative and I like to keep my hands busy whilst watching tv in the evenings. Otherwise, I sit with my phone in my hand like some sort of zombie, trying to kid myself that scrolling through Instagram is important for work. Which it is to a certain extent but we've all got our rabbitholes! So it's been important to me to find some non-work related activities to fill the time which would have been spent going places, seeing people and doing things.
The three main things keeping me sane at the moment seem rather diametrically opposed. On one hand, I've developed an addiction to the Peloton app, finally making good use of the spin bike I bought over 18 months ago (and by good use, I mean more than just hanging clothes on it). I've always loved spin classes but due to my husband's (usual...) erratic pattern of working away I've always struggled to get to classes. I signed up to Peloton in November and although it took until late December to actually look at it, I am absolutely loving it and will recommend it to anyone who will listen (and those how won't). There's nothing like getting your heart racing and building a sweat to some classic 80's rock tunes without actually having to leave the house. If you've got an exercise bike festering in a corner then give it a try, especially as they are running a two month free trial at the moment. I've even recently bought a bluetooth cadence sensor for the bike to better monitor my performance, who even am I these days?
On the other side of the coin are my two more sofa-centric hobbies: crochet and embroidery. I never mastered knitting, despite the best efforts of my both my mother and my grandmother, but after attending classes at Studio 17, just outside Fowey, I quickly developed a taste for whiling away the colder evenings hooking colourful balls of yarn into blankets, particularly stripy ones. We now have an impressive stack of blankets at home, arguably more than we need although they did all get drummed into use at our last visit to the wonderful Minack Theatre in late September (tip: always take more blankets, jumpers and hats to evening shows at the Minack than you think you will need!). Other than a baby blanket for my Covid-baby nephew, my last big project was a random stripe stash-busting blanket back in Lockdown 1 (seen here at the bottom of the pile). Finding ourselves locked down again I now have two blankets (both striped) on the go. At least we won't get cold.
My embroidery hobby dates back to when I was a child, my grandma was very into tapestry and I started cross-stitching quite young. Many of my friends and family members will have my cross-stitch creations in their possession, celebrating births, weddings, anniversaries in their possession (whether that's on the wall or at the back of a cupboard I can't say!). Ever since my eldest son's 4th birthday I have made each of my boys a cross-stitch birthday card which then all hang in our dining room. I've turned all sorts of things into cross stitch cards over the years including Star Wars and Marvel characters, a couple of Octonauts, penguins, a dalek, SpongeBob, Harry Potter, a pigeon, a tractor and a Nintendo Switch! It's always a bit of a challenge to determine what each child's current favourite thing is and to then find or draw up a pattern to go with it so I'm actually quite glad I only have to do that three times a year!
Last year I signed up to a monthly embroidery subscripton package called Hoop Club by Cotton Clara and I've really been enjoying the bright contemporary kits which have arrived on my doorstep every four weeks. The 2020 - We All Stayed At Home design was a Christmas present and one which sums up these weird times well, even if we are now past 2020 and STILL staying home!
Elsewhere in my house, the children have now decided that now is the time to learn chess (on which note, if you haven't watched The Queen's Gambit on Netflix then I highly recommend that you do!), not a bad lockdown option by any stretch but as is only to be expected with a pack of three rowdy boys, it seems to be giving them something else to argue about, sigh. However, they are definitely improving game by game and it's a skill for life right?
So what's been your lockdown saviour? Sea swimming has been a major one here in Fowey and further afield (although not for me personally, HUGE wimp!). Some people turn to baking, some to DIY and others just stick with the tried and tested classic of Netflix and chill! What's helping see you through these tricky times?