After what feels like an eternity of lockdown here in the UK, restrictions are due to reduce as from Monday. I’m excited to be able to move onwards, albeit with baby steps. I’m in no big hurry to return to the old normal. In fact, I’ll be keeping some of the new habits developed over the past year.
Our weekly big shop at the supermarket will continue to be done on Mondays, freeing the weekend for more pleasurable pursuits. Until we had to rethink how and when to do the household weekly shop, we had no idea how much of the weekend was devoted to driving to and from the store, shopping, unpacking etc. An entire morning would disappear before we’d even walked the pup!
With the shop assigned to everyone’s least favourite day, but the quietest one in the supermarket, we gained several hours. We have the time to take pup on a super-long walk through woods, where she gets to explore trails and smells to her hearts content, and we get an hour of brisk walking in fresh air, with the occasional encounter with fellow dog walkers.
It’s not all about walking. This time is where we get to chat about the week that’s just gone and give voice to dreams and ideas for the rest of the weekend, even daring to dream about what we can do once restrictions are lifted. This is good medicine for the mind, body and spirit.
Another time-bandit was cutting the grass. We spent money we earmarked for cancelled holidays on a robot lawnmower. Instead of spending a couple of hours cutting, edging and clearing up the clippings, we invested time in laying out the edging wire and patching up the grass so that the robot, nicknamed The Mowbot, could get round the back garden without getting stuck. It now provides a pleasant distraction, watching it move around the grass like some slow-motion pinball. It seems to move randomly, yet the grass is now neat and more lush than it’s ever been before. Because it goes out daily, there are no long clippings to tidy up. All I need to do is make sure I clean up the organic land mines left by the pup in time for Mowbot to do his rounds.
The purchase of this little machine also provided us with a small building project, a little garage to disguise the docking station. A trawl through Pinterest uncovered a multitude of interesting and humorous designs. We settled on recreating a beach hut based on our favourite UK holiday designation, Cornwall. Mowbot now has a sky-blue and navy striped beach hut, complete with seashells and miniature anchors for decoration. Whilst enhancing our garden, it also serves to keep Mowbot dry overnight. Win-win!
Shopping local is another habit we got into through necessity. Local producers keep us supplied in fresh fruit, veggies, eggs, beef (rare mini-breed) and lamb. Everything tastes so vibrant compared to mass-produced food. It encouraged us to branch out in our greenhouse and grow more that just the ubiquitous tomatoes. Sweet peppers, tricky cucumbers, chilli peppers, carrots (in an old Wellington boot) and parsnips (in the other Wellington boot) were easier to grow than we thought. And there’s nothing more delicious than eating your own home-grown produce.
Which brings me on to the final lockdown habit – cooking. We decided to not buy any more cookery books. Our bookshelf is groaning under the weight of books hardly ever cracked open. We try a new recipe every week. Some have become firm favourites, while other have been red-flagged as ‘never do that one again!’ Coupled with shopping local and growing our own… this is another habit we will keep. It’s made all the easier as I got a beautiful wrought iron book stand for Christmas. I hunt out a new book and recipe, put it on the stand and wait for the rest of the Dean household to ask who’s cooking it and when.
So from Monday we will continue to shop local, shop at off-peak times, grow our own veggies, and raid the cookery books for new recipes, all the time making sure we keep the weekends free for fun and rest. We are not going back to normal, we a going forwards to a new work/life balance, our new normal.
Wishing you all a safe and healthy week ahead.