What the lockdown gave me…

I have been wondering recently whether the events of 2020 and the ongoing situation have affected me in any other way than the inability to travel and being cut off from anyone who lives more than a few miles down the road. I am going through a seismic shift at the moment. As of today I am unemployed and the cause of it is completely unrelated to Covid. In fact, thanks to the pandemic I managed to keep my job for much longer than anticipated. Such is life. It has been over a year now since the first so called lockdown, since we were told to stay at home, clap for NHS, bathe in hand sanitiser, wear the face coverings indoors, and so on. The UK government initially seemed blissfully ignorant of what was happening, then introduced and eased the restrictions every few months. This meant that each time I booked my car theory test, it got cancelled – for no reason in my opinion, I could have sat it with my face mask on, or even do it from home as a secure virtual exam – and the new date, some 12 weeks later, would inevitably fall during the next lockdown, tier 3 or 4 or whatever they called it back then. So, this is a number one goal that has been postponed several times now – me learning to drive. It is still unclear when the driving lessons will resume. I did receive a merciful email from DVLA telling me I am allowed to practice with a family member or a friend. Should I perhaps buy a car and stick a mannequin in the passenger seat, and go ‘practice’, since it’s going to be months if not years before I manage to book an instructor, not to mention the actual test ?

Malta Classic Car Museum, March 2013.

I have managed to stay in shape, pretty much. Smashed my Walk 1000 miles challenge; in fact I walked over 1300 miles in 2020 thanks to daily exercise being allowed by our good Boris. I am bored out of my brains with all the local walks now, and even though in England we no longer have ‘stay at home’ rule, I feel a bit apathetic and can’t be bothered to go back to using our glorious public transport again. Fewer trains, no advance tickets, £40 for a single journey to Penrith, really ? It always seemed to me that the loudest advocates of staying at home forever and one day more were these weird people who never go anywhere, because it made no difference to their lifestyle. Well, I am going to be without a car in the foreseeable future and I have to get used to expensive trains and buses again.

Those Welsh buses are actually all right…

Did I shop more or less in 2020 ? Both, I guess…When the shops re-opened in June I rushed to Sports Direct for much needed T-shirts 😉 Says a lot about me! I stopped missing so called fashion altogether. Womens clothes are so ugly, badly made and pricy that I basically stopped buying them unless absolutely necessary. It sounds miserable, but I really have enough clothes to last me for the next 10 years and I couldn’t care less if they are trendy or not. Same goes for make up. I used to be a proper beauty junkie but now I am a minimalist, happy with a Nivea cream and a mascara (OK, there is more to that but I certainly have a simpler regime now). I admit I am still very fond of good quality outdoor clothing and last summer I treated myself to The North Face waterproof AND insulated coat (it’s rare to get both in one jacket), reduced from a ridiculous £400, plus a super warm Columbia jacket. I bought a pair of Goretex walking shoes. I bought a tent which hasn’t been used once but I have every intention to use it this year! I think I went to a pub three times, once in February to say goodbye to a work colleague who wisely jumped our sinking ship, once in the Lakes and once again before Christmas. Finally, I spent some money on my flat, which resulted in a much needed improvement. It is important to me to have an aesthetically pleasing home and I’d much rather invest in my kitchen than in a pair of designer heels. Besides, I don’t wear heels 😉

Tent waiting for action…isn’t it lovely 🙂

Ready for most adverse weather conditions 🙂

Even a hideous 1989 rental misery of a kitchen can be brought to the XXI century with a little help from a creative plumber – and with ever adaptable IKEA units of course 🙂

I simplified my cooking to such an extent that I don’t even have an oven now. People don’t understand how I manage without one, but I don’t bake or roast, and if I want to heat up a quiche I use my microwave oven. An electric multicooker is a godsend in a single household, brilliant for stews, soups and steamed fish and veg. It’s all I need, really! Apparently I have a slightly underactive thyroid and iodine diet rich in fish and seafood is good for me, so that’s what I do. Fish is the way to go!

Scrambled eggs with prawns, anyone ?

The conclusion is that I haven’t put on 20 stone because of the pandemic, I redirected my spending towards more sensible goals, I have been taking even more care of myself, eating well and enjoying fresh air whenever possible. The last few weeks have been difficult and emotional though. After paying shedloads of tax and NI for the last 10 years I am entitled to around £4 Universal Credit weekly (until September, when Rishi Sunak takes it away) and a whopping £74 Job Seekers Allowance a week. Some European countries pay up to 75 % of the last salary, but then UK is not in Europe anymore and maybe never really was…

Anyway, onwards and upwards. Spring is here again. All will be well in the world…soon.