Life as we know it has changed, almost beyond recognition, in the space of a few short weeks. Staying at home – day in, day out – and only venturing out for food supplies or exercise is strange. Seeing Cambridge sans tourists on said outings is stranger still. Like you, I have good days (which mostly involve baked goods, calls with family and friends and sunshine) and bad days (which tend to feature stress-inducing supermarket trips and runners who don’t seem to know what two metres looks like).
‘Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’ – Dumbledore
Who better to turn to for some sage advice? Happiness, for me, means trying new (cake-related) recipes, spending time outside (within reasonable limits, of course) and rekindling old hobbies. Clazz’s travel-themed ‘Alphabet Adventures’ post inspired me to do one of my own, on a slightly different theme: adventures at home (or near home, in the case of some). On y va!
A is for Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which we discussed at our first virtual book club. It was every bit as enjoyable to read the second time around!
B is for BBQs. Without a patch of paving slabs out the back – for BBQs and basking in the sun – I think I’d have gone stir crazy by now.
C is for Cows. Pre-lockdown, I was looking forward to the Cows about Cambridge sculpture trail. Sadly, coronavirus cases crept up and this moo-vellous event was (sensibly) postponed. On the bright side, living, breathing cows have returned to Sheep’s Green and Coe Fen – and the sight of these furry friends never fails to put a smile on my face.
D is for Dobble. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Dobble.
E is for Easter. I made a batch of Easter nests (with golden syrup, butter and cocoa powder – just like we used to growing up) last Saturday . . . and within a couple of days we’d polished them all off.
F is for Fake Calligraphy, which I think I’ve just about mastered. Mind have a great bank of resources for Crafternoon, and I’ve put my (fake) calligraphy skills to the test in my scrapbook and a couple of pop-up cards (scroll down for those).
G is for Gardening. Just as the tulips have bloomed, the daffodils are fading. I’ve weeded the garden, and Laurence has planted last year’s leftover lettuce and choy sum seeds in various pots and makeshift planters.
H is for Home Baking. Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes has come off the shelf several times in recent weeks: a light and fluffy chocolate sponge was first up, followed by an apple cake (which tasted infinitely better warmed up) and a batch of toffee crisp bites. Laurence has whipped up fruit scones, chocolate granola, croafs (croissant loafs) and Welsh cakes.
I is for ‘Is It Real’ – my contribution to our working from home playlist. (Other songs on there include: ‘Stayin’ Alive’, ‘All By Myself’ and ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’.)
J is for Jigsaws. Three down; another is on its way. We’re planning on framing them down the line, when we have our own home and don’t have to worry about plugging holes in the wall with poly-filler.
K is for Killing Eve, a series I’m only too happy to see return to the small screen.
L is for Lie-In. Who else has substituted their commute for an extra hour’s sleep?
M is for Muntjacs, which we’ve spotted grazing in Cambridge University Botanic Garden on multiple occasions over the past few weeks.
N is for Nomination. My friend Olivia tagged me in the Run for Heroes’ ‘Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5’ challenge on Wednesday – so that was Thursday’s ‘one form of exercise’ sorted!
O is for One Line a Day (ish). When you’re (mostly) confined to the house, it’s the little things that put a smile on your face. I’ve been jotting these down and doodling my way through the lockdown.
P is for Pop-Up Cards, which we made with the Brownies. We’d planned to make these for Mother’s Day, but ended up making them a few weeks later during our first online meeting. We had ‘Happy Easter’, ‘I Miss You’ and ‘Thank You NHS’ cards instead! (If you fancy having a go, you can find the instructions here.)
Q is for Quizzes. We spread The Times’ ‘The Big Easter Bank Holiday Quiz 2020’ over two evenings, as the questions proved rather brain-draining. Mum and Vicki sped into the lead; Laurence and I finished miles behind, with a final score of just 17.5/100. On Friday, I had a quiz night with friends from work. We had a great mix of topics – from ‘lockdown films’, ‘type of cheese or breed of dog’ and ‘fashion’ to ‘quotes’, ‘children’s characters’ and ‘opening lines of books’. Despite a few technical hitches, it was a cracking evening!
R is for Race Across the World. Looking for armchair adventures? Look no further. Watching teams race across Latin America, from Mexico City to Ushuaia, Argentina, by bus, tuk-tuk, boat and shanks’ pony is excellent evening entertainment. (Catch up on iPlayer.)
S is for Scavenger Hunt. We pulled together a virtual version for the Brownies this week, and it went down a treat. We all laughed when I told them to find ‘something that makes you happy’ and almost everyone returned with chocolate of some sort!
T is for Two Wheels. We’ve had a few sunny weekends of late, and it’s been utter bliss cycling on empty roads. Is it just me, or has exercise become more appealing now it’s one of the only reasons for leaving the house?
U is for Unnatural Causes, one of eight books I loaned from the library before it closed. I’d been wanting to read Unnatural Causes for a while, and it was well worth the wait.
V is for Virtual Tea Chats. Where would I be without these weekday chinwags with my work pals?
W is for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. I’m loving the teddy bears (and assorted other plushies) on display at the moment. A few doors down from us, there’s a house which changes its display every day: one day the teddy had a bottle of sunblock beside him, the next a jar of honey.
X is for ?. I’m stumped here.
Y is for @yorkshiredales. They’re posting a photo of the Yorkshire Dales every day to bring the outdoors indoors; an outdoors-y pick-me-up, if you like.
Z is for Ze: another two-letter word to add to my arsenal for Scrabble duels. We cracked out Scrabble last weekend: I racked up 403 points (the seven-letter word bonus on my first go certainly helped) and Laurence trailed behind on 248. He’ll be back on form next time, I’m sure. Until then, I’ll be studying the two- and three-letter word lists.