Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Isolation update + food for thought!

When we started this isolation business the weather seemed set on keeping us cheerful with more than our usual share of blue sky and sunshine. Now we are back to a more normal ration of bits of brightness between longer periods of cloud and gloom. Perhaps someone told the weather that all that sun was making people flock to beauty spots and fail to keep their social distance!! The law of unforeseen consequences!

More unforeseen consequences abound. I mentioned the changes to refuse collection around here with everything going into one bin and recycling disappearing. Now I read that the UK could be hit by a national cardboard shortage as more and more local councils suspend their regular recycling collections. In fact the problem could well be Europe-wide or even worldwide and since cardboard boxes are essential for distributing food and medical supplies this could turn out to be a big problem. 

There are fewer people out and about to give food and money to the homeless, who are going hungry as a result. Not only that but rough sleepers are being fined for failing to comply with lockdown regulations: basically being fined for being outside when they have nowhere else to go. Crazy! More details here. It’s not just other countries doing this; my daughter told me about a homeless man in nearby Stalybridge being fined £600 for failing to maintain social distance!

It’s not all bad for everyone. There has been a Zoom boom. I had never heard of Zoom until this week. It turns out to be yet another way of video-conferencing. The app tracking firm Apptopia said Zoom was downloaded 2.13m times around the world on 23 March, the day the lockdown was announced in the UK– up from 56,000 a day two months earlier. Wow!

Ways to stay fit and motivated are being recommended all over the place. Here is one example.  I particularly like this bit from Mr Motivator, someone I had not heard about for years and years:-

“During the coronavirus crisis, we have all got to stay motivated to work out. One way to do this is to focus on your blessings. Every day when you wake up, think of five reasons to be grateful.

Then put your trainers on. Not your slippers. Walk around your house and put music on. Headbanging music, funky music – whatever gets you going. Now you’ve got your trainers on and your music pumping, you can have some fun.”

You have to love his cheerfulness. And I have long been a fan of putting on some lively music while working in the kitchen, for example. There is nothing quite like a bit of dancing while you cook!

On the subject of cooking, yesterday I made a huge batch of vegetable soup. A good half of it has gone into the freezer but today’s menu is sorted: vegetable soup, some nice bread, a bit of hummus and some olives, maybe poached eggs, and certainly some salad. A bit of fruit for dessert.

Also I invented a dessert last week with ingredients from my freezer. I had a slightly overcooked sponge cake (not burnt but too dry to serve as the birthday cake it was intended for and therefore put in the freezer until inspiration struck) and some rather tart stewed plums. I defrosted both and put the cake in a dish, pierced it a few times to provide easy access for the plum juice, and then poured the stewed plums on top. The juice softened the dry cake and the slight sweetness of the cake took the edge off the tartness of the fruit. Served up with ice-cream it was fine. I shall do it again, on purpose next time!

This next link, about Leonard Cohen living on Hydra, was not really recommending ways to stay sane and reasonably cheerful. I have at least one friend who finds him quite depressing but personally I find his dry wit rather uplifting. What’s more, the article included mention of Leonard Cohen’s own way of keeping the depression at bay: writing or, as he put it, “blackening pages”. “Religion, teachers, women, drugs, the road, fame, money, nothing gets me high and offers relief from the suffering like blackening pages, writing.” It has always worked for me.

And finally, here’s a link to an idea from New Zealand.  Of course, going on a hunt for teddy bears in windows can only work in places where parents can still take children for walks, which I know is not the case in Spain.

And we are keeping our fingers crossed the writer of “We’re going on a bear hunt”, Michael Rosen, who has been in intensive care suffering from Covid-19.

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