So what’s new?

Anyone else still mentally in March? It seems that though I have loved watching Spring then Summer evolving, the calendar in my head is stuck! So I thought it would be good to reflect on some of the really good things we’ve discovered during lockdown times. These are new to us, not necessarily new to everyone!

It seems like forever since I last went to a gig. D and I love live music, and just squeezed in a trip to see the Smoke Fairies in Manchester in early February. Thinking back to that packed underground venue squashed up close to strangers, before we knew what a ‘bubble’ was or ‘social distancing’.....
Still, music has got me through lockdown, and we’ve ordered a few albums from our favourite record shops, Loafers in Halifax and Piccadilly Records in Manchester. Also from Bandcamp of course. Currently on the turntable is Lana Del Rey, Norman *** Rockwell. I love her summery laid back vocals, especially on the songs Mariners Apartment Complex and Doin Time, which is an updated riff on Gershwin’s Summertime . I can just close my eyes and I’m on a hot beach in California. Just a warning though, it’s a little sweary.  Another current favourite is local band Hope & Social’s new album, Happy Bread (& Cruel Hangovers). H & S are the most positive, fun live band - I swear that when we go to see them I get sore cheeks from smiling! They wear blue school blazers on stage and have a very loyal following in these parts. I really love the song, What do you know about love? from this album, and their back catalogue is worth a look too. I know that bands like H & S have really struggled in lockdown, as they survive, just, on touring and album sales. If I can help a little bit, that’s something. They are doing live weekly WhatsApp recording sessions too. 

Reading has been a great solace too. I have read tonnes since lockdown began. Two big faves have been Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hessian, and On Chapel Sands by Laura Cummings. Leonard and Hungry Paul is the tale of two friends. Not much happens, but it’s so well-observed and the writing is delicious. On Chapel Sands is the true story of the author’s investigation into her mother’s past. It’s so beautifully told. The author is an art expert, and there are many references to paintings in the book, which had me googling images and wanting to get back to galleries! I recently had a trip to one of our local indie bookshops (we have three close by - so lucky!), so more will follow in a later post on what I bought.

When Maddie was home, we played boardgames one night. Our usual favourite, Pandemic, seems a little uncomfortable at present (not least because we always lose to the game....) , so we played the fast paced game of luck and strategy, Camel Up. This is so much really need a minimum of 3 to play properly. I love games where you use a little skill - here you have to predict winners and overs- but luck plays a big part too. And just look at that board! Pop-up palm trees!

Normally we are keen cinema goers in our family, and we are members of Hebden Bridge Picture House, a small and friendly cinema where you can get tea and cake while you watch the big screen. Obviously this is closed right now, so we had a couple of DIY movie nights at home last week. When Maddie is around I find we watch things which are a little out of my comfort zone, and I’m glad for it. We watched Train to Busan, a Korean zombie thriller set on a train. Yes, zombies on a train, what’s not to love? It was great, very exciting, and some excellent hammed-up zombie action! Another night we watched The Invisible Man starring the wonderful Elisabeth Moss. I could watch her in anything,  she’s so good. This seemed like a straight forward thriller, but the amount of discussion it generated all through the next day show it was anything but. We all had different perceptions of what was real and what imagined. I consider that to be the mark of a great film! On TV we have been working through some excellent box sets, including This Is Us and Cardinal.

My daily routine has changed a lot during these times, especially concerning hair and make up. Normally for school I wash my hair every night and wear a medium amount of make up. When lockdown started I changed to washing my hair twice a week, using a deep leave in conditioner between times. It has loved it! It’s longer than it has ever been and wavy. I really like it. Instead of full make-up, I’ve just used a tinted moisturiser with an SPF for when we go for our daily walk, and a deep moisturiser from Tropic twice a week overnight.

 Finally (I seem to be saying a lot today!) one thing I have thought about a lot has been how I can do a bit to help the planet. Now that toilet rolls are no longer the precious commodity they were in March, I have decided to shop around and buy eco-friendly varieties. And when they look so pretty, who can resist? 
So what's new with you, Helen?

I've tried out one or two new recipes over the last few months, and this Easy Peasy Foodie one will definitely be repeated. Super simple (it's easy peasy, duh!) and really tasty: the perfect accompaniment to some spicy lentil and butternut squash soup.

We continue to enjoy our local parks and canal side walks every weekend and recently we ventured to Pennington Flash Country Park for the first time. I don't know why we have never visited before, it is just the kind of place we enjoy exploring : lots of lakeside trails to follow,  woodland, wetland, bird hides (currently closed due to social distancing regulations) and yachts and water sports to watch admiringly from the shore. But that was last weekend....

This week began with an unwelcome first, which all too many of us have had to experience over the last few months, a trip for T to a local covid testing centre following contact with a colleague who had tested positive. Fortunately, T tested negative and although having to self isolate for the next week, is showing no symptoms and continuing to work from home. We are hoping all will be well for our trip to North Yorkshire, which fortunately is still nine days away.

Crochet has been my "new" craft love over the last few months and with a certain paleo-biologist-in-training's birthday coming up in September I've been secretly working on this stegosaurus. My amigurumi skills are still in the development stages - I need to sort out my tension to prevent visible stuffing ( or maybe I'm overstuffing? Tips gratefully received!!), but fortunately my target audience will be very non-judgemental ( though I did have to make sure the stego's plates were staggered and not placed symmetrically, as this would have been an unforgivable inaccuracy!)

And finally, I've been itching to do some cross stitch for a while and I finally decided that for my holiday project I would pay homage to my grandmother's black work sampler. It isn't dated, but judging by the simple design I imagine she must have worked it by 1896 at the latest, when she would have been ten years old.

I found a small piece of aida in my stash that is a similar size to the linen used in the original and plotted out a few rough design ideas on graph paper. I decided I would copy the original lettering exactly (although it will come out slightly smaller on my piece of aida), add in a few extra details and make commemoration of the months we have all spent in lockdown. 

It was meant to be a nice, portable project to take on our holiday, but I couldn't resist beginning it early! I wonder if in another 124 years it will be hanging on some descendant's wall?!


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