Since last March, we’ve been in and out of local and national lockdowns. It’s been frustrating and boring and tedious at times, but it’s also been a chance to step out of our comfort zones and explore new hobbies. So, instead of dwelling on the negatives, I’m focusing on the positives and reflecting on the opportunities I’ve had to spend time trying new things. Here are a few of my favourites:
Painting by numbers
I’ve never been great at art, but that doesn’t mean it’s something I can’t enjoy. I may have the drawing ability and artistic skills of a five-year-old, but it turns out that adult painting-by-numbers was the perfect way around that. Starting with a pretty boat scene that was kindly gifted to me, I soon discovered that painting by numbers was a very mindful and therapeutic activity. Once I got into it, I couldn’t stop, because the image slowly started to take shape before my eyes with every new section I painted, and I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out. I found myself quietly painting for hours, so it filled up my lockdown time perfectly. And when I’d finished the painting, I had a real sense of achievement and pride knowing I’d done it. I now plan to frame it and hang it in my summer house along with the next one I’m working on. My grandad has also become a painting-by-numbers addict over the past year!
Making soap was my 2020 Christmas present project. I went for the more simple method of using ‘melt and pour soap’ rather than trying to figure out how to make soap from scratch using chemical processes and lye. So armed with my ‘melt and pour’ soap bases, a range of essential oils, coloured micas and soap moulds, I set out to make a variety of handmade soaps for family and friends. I followed online tutorials to work out the correct concentration of essential oils and how to add colours. I also experimented with extra additions like lavender petals and desiccated coconut for decoration; coffee grounds for exfoliating soaps; and almond oil and honey for added moisture. I attempted dual coloured soaps, opaque and transparent soaps, different shaped soaps, and even soaps that looked like a slice of coconut ice or a cappuccino. I let my creativity run wild!
Back in the summer when the weather was sunny (remember those good old days!), we discovered our green fingers and created our very own vegetable garden. We painted wooden crates and filled them with soil ready to plant up the seeds we’d carefully propagated indoors. We grew potatoes, carrots, kale, leeks, spring onions, tomatoes, courgettes, strawberries and butternut squash. Some were a success and we cooked them up in delicious meals, and some were a sad failure ravaged by insects. But nurturing and growing them got us out in the garden to soak up some sun, and there was a definite sense of satisfaction in growing and eating our own veg.
A couple of years ago, I did a 6-week pottery course with one of my best friends. It was creative, therapeutic and fun, but I never got round to picking it up again until now. In between periods of lockdown, I managed to go to a pottery workshop to create a polar bear out of clay, and my interest in pottery was reignited. So I treated myself to a pottery kit so I could start making things at home. It has all the tools I need to create items out of clay, and I set my sights on making a plant pot to house the little succulents I’ve been propagating and nurturing. It was a little messy but very satisfying, and I can’t wait to do more pottery and see what my imagination can conjure up next.
At Christmas time, we got a couple of new games to keep us entertained – Rummikub and Ticket to Ride. They’re not your typical Monopoly-style family board games that end in arguments and bad moods and get locked away until next year. Instead, these games have turned out to be really addictive and we’re still playing them well after the festive break and into the new year. Rummikub is a numbers game which I can’t wait to teach my Grandad (he’s a big Sudoku fan), and Ticket to Ride is a travel inspired game where you’re competing to reach destinations by train. They both involve logic and a bit of luck, as well as lots of strategy and forward-thinking – so they’re good for keeping your brain active, but also a lot of fun. Who doesn’t love a bit of healthy competition?!
Although I haven’t always had inspiration and ideas for blogs, I’ve found myself going through phases where I’m full of ideas and bursting with things to say. Maybe it’s because I’ve had more time to reflect on life and realise what’s important to me, but I’ve found that when the mood takes me, I put pen to paper and blogs come flowing out. I think it’s changed my blogging style – I’ve moved away from travel and adventure blogs because there’s been a lack of travel and adventure in my life during the pandemic. But that’s okay – I always wanted my blog to be a reflection of me, and my life has changed lately. So, there’s no surprise that my blog has changed too!
What new hobbies or activities have you discovered thanks to lockdown? I’m on the lookout for what I can put my hand to next…