Cooking, baking, gardening and counting blessings

Sourdough bread has been a revelation – thanks to a 16kg sack of flour from Williamson’s Food and a BBC Good Food recipe.

This week I have mainly cooked, baked and eaten. There is cake in almost every tin, and the tally of tubs of home-made soups in the freezer has risen to eleven. There’s nothing guaranteed to give me more satisfaction than producing a meal – or a cake, tray of scones or fresh-baked loaf – for an appreciative audience. It’s just an audience of two – Mr Marr and Daughter #2 are home, but some of the overspill baking has made it onto the neighbours’ doorsteps. Ringing their doorbells then running away has made me feel like a nine-year-old again.

All this eating is fabulous, but it’s beginning to leave its mark. A daily #onewalk of up to an hour isn’t getting close to working off all those increased calories, so on Thursday I resorted to desperate measures; I joined in with an apparent 300,000 others from across the world for 9am PE with Joe Wickes. Thursday was fine, but I missed the memo about Friday being fancy dress. No matter, I could see Joe, but he certainly couldn’t see me. It was all going fine till we had to pretend to be frogs and leap between imaginary lily pads. That was quickly followed by dancing ‘like a silly-billy’. I realised that I may not be the target audience, so, I unearthed my hula hoop from behind the settee and went out to play in the garden instead.

Is anyone managing to concentrate on work?

Ginger Crunch from The Mountain Cafe Cookbook.

So, the big news this week is that my calorie intake has far exceeded my calorie output. But the other news is that I’ve had a bit of work to do – welcome for a freelancer during these financially precarious times. But despite my enthusiasm I struggled to knuckle down to it; On Monday my concentration levels were through the floor. But we all have off-days, so I wrote on Tuesday instead. The trick, I guess, is to remember to be more patient with ourselves during lockdown. And to keep on counting our blessings.

I know. I am incredibly lucky. We have a house that is big enough for the three of us each to have our own work/study spaces, and – the biggest blessing of all – our garden. It’s not a huge garden, but it has grass, flower borders and a raised veg patch, and we share it with almost a million (no exaggeration – you should hear them!) sparrows. Getting out there in my dressing-gown with an early morning cup of tea gets fresh air into my lungs and gets me away from the constant feed of Covid-related news. And I always feel better when I’m outside.

I’m not taking my garden for granted

My veg patch – all planted up. Fingers crossed the birds don’t think it’s ALL for them…

I’m trying really hard not to take my garden for granted. The message that this virus is affecting us all in the same way is patently untrue. We have space, both inside and out, and we can get out for a daily walk… Inverness has plenty of green spaces, a canal and a river and we are finding wee snickets and alleyways that – even after 24 years in the same house – we never knew existed. There are other blessings too; Mr Marr is still working, so there’s money coming in to pay the bills. My children are both safe and my wider family is all well. Those of us who have caught the virus have – so far- shaken it off.

I can’t imagine the worry of having a loved one in hospital and not being able to visit them, or the devastation of losing someone to this. And yet people are still flouting the very strong, very clear  #StayHome messages. I feel for those who can’t get out because they don’t have a garden, are shielding or have mobility issues. And I feel for those who are still having to work; those in the NHS and emergency services, carers, teachers, supermarket staff, posties, delivery drivers… all those who allow me to keep my cupboards and fridge stocked well enough that my household will come out of lockdown larger than when we went in.

Spring is still springing…

I picked a few bits of twig out of the flower bed yesterday while I was on the phone to my mum and left them lying on the path; I meant to tidy them but didn’t get around to it. Today, as I drank my cuppa in the garden, I watched a pair of thrushes gather them up, presumably as construction materials for their nest.

The birds have no idea what’s going on – for them it’s just business as usual. Spring is springing; they are collecting twigs, building nests and soon – I hope, we’ll start to hear the squeaky, high-pitched sound of hatched chicks. As I watch for my veg seedlings poking through, I’ll be listening for that sound. Maybe this year I’ll have time to properly listen, and to watch the young chicks fledge.

It’s good to have blessings to count, and good to have things to look forward to. Stay safe and stay well. And Happy Easter!

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