Quarantine Diary: Week 5

Sunday 19th April

Forgot to mention that we finally started getting post again on Friday, after nearly two weeks without, though still no letter from Boris as yet.

Today we are trying bread attempt number 2: A packet of ready-mixed bread dough from the shop (tomato and cheese flavour) that you just add water to. They ended up spreading out but not rising upwards much, so we got some very wide, flat rolls, but these ones were much lighter and fluffier than the last attempt!

The weather is lovely and sunny again so we managed a little bike ride round the park this morning and another nice walk in the afternoon up to the golf course. It was definitely busier today – we saw a lot more people out for walks, not sure if it was the nice weather or the fact that it’s a Sunday or a bit of both. But everyone was very good about distancing and staying well away from each other. By the time we got home I realised I had walked 6km today (though she did some of that on her bike) – which is probably more than we’ve done for a week! We are both tired out, and hopefully will sleep well.

Feeling tired in general today, even though the kid is sleeping better nowadays. I think it’s more a general sense of ennui and lack of energy than physical tiredness. Just feel a bit bored and deflated and depressed at the thought of another 3 weeks or more of this. Running out of energy and interest in trying new things for the kid to do, so we are watching more and more telly, eating more and more chocolate and in general it feels like we are going to really struggle to re-establish routines and boundaries later on when this is all over.

Also my sister has been feeling unwell for a few days now and is isolating at home, her doctor thinks it is probably coronavirus. She doesn’t have a fever or cough yet, but in general is feeling pretty rotten. My aunt is still feeling ill too and has had a fever now for quite a long time. Keeping my fingers crossed they both get well soon.

Monday 20th April

Day 30 – quite a milestone indeed. I’ve started making a list of things I want to do when we get out of this – swimming, camping, visiting friends and seeing people, haircuts, getting the kid back to nursery (which she loves), etc. We both had a really good night’s sleep last night, so I feel properly rested for the first time in weeks. I woke up and felt energised/full of energy for the first time in ages, so we harnessed the energy and cleaned the bathrooms and hoovered the floor. I even managed to finally start reading my book! We walked up to the garage for some more milk in the morning, and I made some more meal plans.

Had a call with the doctor this afternoon to discuss boring non-emergency stuff (I’ve had intermittent pains and numbness in my hands for months now, and recently also in my feet). The doc thought it was carpal tunnel at first but the nerve conduction test came back negative so now we are discussing other potential things like gout or arthritis.

We went for a short walk this afternoon to the park and saw a deer in the woods! Looked like a muntjac (about the size of a goat, with goat-like horns). That was very exciting. The kid was exhausted and ended up falling asleep and having a danger nap at about 3pm, but thankfully we still managed bedtime ok. Spent the evening cataloguing my pottery to make an online brochure/catalogue now that Art Weeks has been cancelled, so it was quite nice to get everything out and have a proper look at it, decide on pricing and lay it all out nicely in a document.

Tuesday 21st April

My toe was hurting again last night – it woke me up around 2am and was very painful again. Doc thinks gout is a possibility though it doesn’t explain the pain in my hands. He says to take quite a high dose of ibuprofen daily for a few days to try and reduce any inflammation and I’ll go for a blood test in a week or two to try and test for gout (or rule it out).

Had a nice video chat with one of the Gods today so the kids could see each other and tried to do some group nursery rhymes, but mine melted down for most of it, so was a bit hit and miss, but really nice to catch up and check in.

Bread attempt number 3: Dutch Oven style. The recipe has such a tiny amount of yeast and didn’t rise much at all, so I was very dubious but it actually turned out brilliantly! Definitely my best attempt so far. Quite chewy and a little bit rubbery but not too bad at all for a total beginner! I’m also thinking about getting a sourdough starter and becoming one of those hipster twats that has to feed my yeast… #breadwanker Will do a separate post on my adventures into bread so you can see the results…

Getting into bread is helping to alleviate the boredom and giving me a new hobby to practice and get good at so I’m giving myself a free pass even though I might turn into a right old bread-snob at some point. Dear god we are both going to be sick of bread soon. (I don’t normally eat much bread other than toast for brekkie). We’ll have to start taking it to the neighbours once we get good enough that it’s mostly edible.

The kid is in a funny mood today – she’s tired and cranky, and wanting lots of cuddles and snuggles (which is nice) but we are also getting lots of moaning and groaning and meltdowns. She was helping me take pictures of all my pots yesterday, and took a shine to a very small green mug I made with bright blue glass in the bottom. I said she could have it as a special present, and she was so sweet and kept hugging me and saying “Thank you mummy!”. So now she has a special mug that’s made by her mummy. In general she keeps wanting to hug my arm or hand or foot, and touch me and snuggle me. I am enjoying it as she hasn’t been a hugely snuggly or physical child up til now, but I’m also unsure if this is a sign of closer bonding and attachment, or if it’s a sign of her feeling insecure and needing more reassurance during such a strange time. Who can say but I’m enjoying the extra cuddles anyhow!

Another big long walk to explore more of the local woods and try out some new paths. The kid walked almost 4km which is amazing and she’s exhausted so should sleep well tonight (she nearly fell asleep in the middle of her dinner!). I’m feeling very pleased with my bread and my pottery catalogue today, as well as our long walk discovering new paths in the woods, so once again it was a Very Good Day.

Wednesday 22nd April

Quiet morning pottering around the house playing with things. We did some more crafts, cutting and sticking sitting out in the garden, and played with some of our newer toys. Quick call with my dad to say hello.

Took the kid out on her bike in the afternoon back to the refill shop to get more flour for our bread practice. Sadly they didn’t have any when we got there but it was a nice sunny day and the kid is really getting so much better on her bike. She’s quite intuitive in learning to ride it and today she was experimenting with lifting her legs up and coasting along, learning the “balance” part of balance bike all on her own!

Feels like we are starting to settle down into our “new normal” and it was another good day. The kid was on good form and I was in a good mood and we are both starting to sleep much better now, though admittedly she’s ending up with me in my bed most nights.

I have also managed to start (and finish!) my book (it was very good – really gripping), and I got all the bits in the post that I need to start my new quilting project, which is very exciting. Feels a bit like I have gotten over the initial shock of the lockdown and regained the use of my brain which is nice.

Thursday 23rd April

Busy morning running errands. We popped to the Post Office (it was completely empty), and to Wilko for some garden stuff. We then went to a friend of a friend’s house to pick up some sourdough starter. That’s right – we’ve got a new pet! Must remember to feed the yeast…

Have started another batch of bread dough but will leave it overnight to rise this time.

After lunch it was hot and sunny so we did some more gardening and planted out some more bedding plants, and then as I was taking out some garden rubbish to the bins out the front there was some hardcore screaming coming from the house two doors down (there have been some incidents of domestic violence at that house in the past). A lot of top volume yelling along the lines of “YOU’RE A FUCKING CUNT!!!!” followed by a man storming out of the house into his car, and then as I stood there with the bin lid lifted, poised to drop my bin bag in, a woman ran out of the house with a hammer and started attacking his car, literally about 8 metres away from me. I’ve never seen a car window shatter quite like that before, there was glass everywhere, though I don’t know how she missed hitting him in the head with the hammer as it went through his window while he was sitting in the driver’s seat. Then she kept going and put a massive hammer-shaped hole in his windscreen as he revved and reversed away. It was shockingly sudden and violent. I raced back inside to get my phone in case police were required (the last time it was pretty nasty), and to check the kid was safe and happy playing in the garden (she hadn’t noticed a thing). All very sudden and shocking and I was a little rattled afterwards, so we went for another walk to the park and the woods. 

I have heard in many countries that domestic violence is a huge concern during this lockdown as tempers flare and tension bubbles over. Witnessing violence up close is not fun and left me feeling frankly quite rattled and freaked out.

The rest of the afternoon was fine. The kid didn’t eat much today, but that might be the heat. In the evening I had another date to watch National Theatre Live with some friends (this time it was Twelfth Night). I wasn’t in a very Shakespeary mood so I put it on in the background while I did some more work on my new quilting project. I swear there is something about crafting and my creative projects (both pottery and quilting/knitting) that literally lights up the pleasure centre in my brain. It’s so uplifting and relaxing and enjoyable, I’m so happy I have a hobby that I get so much pleasure out of. I have heard that some people get that feeling from exercise or running though I have never yet experienced any joy from that. Here is a sneak preview (this one is going to be a summer duvet-cover for my bed when it’s finished). It’s so bright, colourful and vibrant that it has cheered me up immediately!

Friday 24th April

Poor little girl woke up upset because she’s missing her Grandma and she’s not allowed to visit. I tried to explain but I know she doesn’t understand. Settled for a call instead and remembered that she didn’t eat much yesterday so will have woken up hungry which is probably why she was so cranky.

We went back to Tesco’s in the morning as we haven’t been shopping this week at all, though I’m starting to plan meals more around what’s in the freezer now to try and eat some of my meal stockpile before I buy too much more food. The kid’s been a bit off her food lately, (I think she’s having a growth spurt) and I’m trying hard not to cave and give her things I know she will eat, like chocolate brioche and yoghurt all the time, as I really want to try and get her to eat more things and have a healthy mix of foods (she LOVES fruit but I have to manage how much she has each day otherwise her nappies become a disaster area)….

Tesco’s had a much longer queue than we’ve seen before, the longest I’ve seen since the lockdown began, and I noticed a lot more cars and people out and about today (and this week in general we are seeing more and more people on our walks). I suspect more and more people are running low of their stockpiles and needing to shop now, and maybe like me they all thought it was best to get food in before the weekend, which tends to be busier. According to my phone I walked a kilometre while at Tesco’s (we drove there, so that was all queueing and shopping).

Today I made bread again, having left the dough to rise overnight. It was the same no-knead dutch oven recipe but with added tomatoes and harissa for flavour. Sadly, after heating up the pot to a squillion degrees in the oven, I was just putting the bread into the mega-hot pot when the kid distracted me, and as I was busy telling her to stay back as it was very hot and it wasn’t safe (there it is again – it’s not safe!) – I absent-mindedly reached to put the scorching hot cast iron lid back on the pot without putting my oven gloves back on. Ouch. Ouch a lot. After retrieving the oven gloves, swearing like a sailor and shoving the bread in and setting the timer, I sat with my hand plunged into a bowl of iced water for a good half an hour. My thumb, forefinger and middle finger were all turning white and waxy, though thankfully now it’s only the forefinger that’s really sore and a tad crispy, so no permanent damage. Turns out my new bread-making hobby is a little dangerous when mixed with small people….

In the afternoon we popped up to Shotover Woods just to have a different place to explore and walk around in, and dropped in to say hello to my colleague who lives up that way. It was lovely and all the bluebells were out. Quite a scorcher of a day for April but we enjoyed every minute of it. We even stumbled on some ethereal Anthony Gormley horse sculptures that were floating in someone’s private garden (we were cutting through their garden to get back to the car park). In the evening a bit more work on the quilt. Overall yet another good day – this feels like it’s been a good week overall!

Saturday 25th April

Woke up this morning feeling at a loss as to what we should do today. Nothing much springs to mind and I want to try and avoid our usual parks which have slowly been getting busier, especially on weekends. This week in general it has felt like we are starting to settle into a routine, and starting to feel a bit less anxious and a bit more acclimatised to our new normal. It’s still hard sometimes but feels like it is getting easier rather than harder (famous last words).

We’ve still had no letter from the government, which others got before easter, although other post has been making it through in dribs and drabs rather haphazardly. I am now curious to see if it ever appears or if we have simply been missed altogether…

Puttered about the house all morning, playing with toys and just not doing a lot. She cycled/ I walked to the refill shop for more pumpkin and sunflower seeds for our ongoing bread endeavours, and had a nice long phone call catch up with the Gods, which was lovely. Then took the kid out in the car to try and find some fertiliser for the garden after failing to find any online at all. Nothing – the lady at Wilkinson told me they’ve sold out of their entire year’s supply of own-brand fertiliser already. I assume it’s a combination of garden centres being closed and everyone being stuck at home and getting on with sorting their garden’s out. Will continue the search as I’ve got loads of seeds I want to plant, and some chicken wire to create new anti-cat defences but wanted to fertilise before I do anything else.

Then we sat in the car again in our driveway for a while in the afternoon – it’s the kid’s favourite play area at the moment it seems…

This evening I had another movie date with some friends, which was fun.

As the boredom kicks in I’ve noticed these diary entries getting longer and longer, because writing them, along with bread making, gardening and sewing, is another thing to do, to keep busy and occupied and slightly less bored…

Also I’ve put on a kilo – I blame my new bread hobby entirely…

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