A week into my own personal lockdown and I haven’t yet cracked and run amok through the house screaming “will I never see OUTSIDE again?” Which is a bonus.
As a person who is mostly introverted and who enjoys copious amounts of quiet time on her own, I was always going to be suited to this. I can happily wile away whole days inside, making bits of nonsense, reading, writing, watching, baking (not so much any more - more on that story later), pondering the garden or paint colours for inside, staring into space...
At the weekend I put together a Christmas wreath made from pom-poms and lights. It’s extremely cheerful, extremely gaudy and makes me happy every time I look at it (although I’m kind of wishing I’d cleaned the windows before I hung it). It also meant I could claim my day’s work done and spend the rest of it reading the paper.
We’ve played scrabble, watched films, cooked, played with the cats. I’ve bottled my damson gin, jarred my damson jelly and labelled the runner bean chutney for N to deliver while I’m in hospital.
Last night we watched Batman: the Dark Knight because I am nothing if not behind on my superhero film watching. 3 thoughts have stayed with me:
1. Bale’s Batman makes me laugh every time he speaks. His voice is so ridiculous! I can’t hear him without imagining him having to break off mid stirring speech to cough and choke. I don’t find him convincing (however he was excellent as Dick Cheney in Vice).
2. Heath Ledger could have been given more airtime. He was astonishing as the Joker and leaving him dangling at the end was a waste.
3. This film does not pass the Bechdel test. Poor Maggie Gyllenhaal portraying the only rounded, fully inhabited female character and she gets killed off? You, Christopher Nolan, did a disservice there, regardless of plot.
In fact, her character's death made me almost as cross as the Black Widow's did in Avengers: Endgame. Yeah, great, just bring the most interesting character to a stop, why don't you. Leave us with the anodyne Captain America, sure. You didn't just miss a MASSIVE trick there at all.
Back to the matter in hand: lockdown.
There's no doubt that I've been bolstered in mood by a walk my friend and I took the day before I had to sequester away like some medieval nun in a hermitage. We parked up on the side of the Malverns, by Holywell (appropriate, no?), in the mist and murky gloom, and walked up. And up. And up. Admiring the way the muted daylight brought out the russets of the beech leaves, the reds of the berries and the silver of the birches in stark contrast. There was colour everywhere we looked, despite the lack of light.
And then. Oh friends, then we broke above the cloud into...glorious sunshine! The snaking, ridged spine of the hills leading across the landscape to the almost-touchable Iron Age hill fort was picked out by a sharp light that made the whistling wind feel less bitter. Over to our right, Herefordshire countryside laid itself out, shaking off the damp and glowing greenly.
To our left, the cloud brushed up against the side of the hills, forming a white carpet so thick and solid looking that we felt we could walk on it. Occasionally bits would be blown up and over the path, momentarily blurring the edges and making me think of moorland mists, the Hound of the Baskervilles and other appropriately Gothic things.
the hill to see what was on the other side.
And baking? I did promise more on that, didn't I? In truth, I've hesitated to write about this because there is nothing more boring than hearing about other people's diets, but as it's the basis for a big shift in my life, I'm going to.
Some years ago, I gave up dairy (apart from eggs) in a desperate attempt to bring my eczema under control. And for a time, it worked. Until it didn't and the eczema crept into my scalp, developed on my knees and generally made life itchy and miserable. That alone was enough to make me consider the next step, but when coupled with some other minor, but irritating, health problems, I figured the time had come to bite the (dairy-free) bullet, not to mention my credit card, and book to to see a nutritional therapist.
I'd not had much luck with doctors, you see.
Many hours of research later and I finally found a non-woo therapist. And by non-woo, I mean someone who didn't think kale was the answer to everything, who didn't think that fasting would cure my ills or that I should replace my meals with smoothies, who didn't suggest crystals as anything other than something nice to look at, or that I should engage with dream therapy. I wanted someone with a solid grounding in science and a healthy understanding of human nature as well as nutrition.
Luckily, I found her. Unluckily, the first thing she suggested I quit was gluten.
Oh bread! Toast in the mornings, sandwiches at lunch, garlic bread with dinner! Naans with curry! Muffins with eggs! Pasta morning noon and night! Cakes, biscuits and other tasty goodnesses! Goodbye to you all, my lifelong delicious friends! Yes, I have been that dramatic; ain't I a peach to live with? In my defence, it is a big step for me: I come from a solid family who's answer to a bad day was crumpets, my favourite part of a roast dinner when growing up was a slice of bread smothered in gravy and my Dad had a second breakfast of lemon curd sandwiches when he was working (he was a landscape gardener, so definitely burned it off throughout the day).
I could go into the many reasons why this is a recommended first step, but I won't because I don't want to bore you all. Suffice to say, I am no longer eating peanut butter on toast for breakfast and my energy levels have rocketed. Heartburn has disappeared. Bloating is a distant memory. The eczema? It takes 4-6 weeks for the skin to replace itself, so the jury is still out but I feel so much better. Possibly mainly because I'm taking control. And that's got to be worth it.
I'm still having proper stuffing on Christmas Day though.
This is likely to be my last lengthy post pre-Christmas. My op is next Tuesday and I imagine I won't be up to anything like this, let alone coherent enough to write it. Thank you all for popping by my tiny corner of the internet, commenting or just reading and moving on. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a very merry new year as we say goodbye to this sod of a year.